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Benjamin Netanyahu: 'People Are Trying To Draw Me Into The American Election'

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WASHINGTON -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he knows people want him to say whether President Barack Obama or Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has better policies toward Israel, but he doesn't want to go there.

"I know that people are trying to draw me into the American election. I'm not going to do that," Netanyahu said during a Sunday appearance on CNN's "State of the Union."

"This is not an electoral issue. It is not based on any electoral consideration. I think there's a common interest of all Americans to stop Iran," he said. "What's guiding me ... is not the American political calendar. It's the Iran nuclear calendar."

Netanyahu's comments come as some prominent American Jews have criticized him for his unprecedented level of involvement in the U.S. election.

"Now Netanyahu seems determined, more than ever, to alienate the President of the United States and, as an ally of Mitt Romney’s campaign, to make himself a factor in the 2012 election," David Remnick wrote last week in the New Yorker.

"Netanyahu absolutely stepped in it by accusing the U.S. -- albeit indirectly -- of not feeling enough urgency about Iran," Jeffrey Goldberg wrote in the Atlantic. "You just don't do that. Which is to say, you do it privately."

In a separate interview with NBC's "Meet the Press," Netanyahu dismissed the idea that Obama snubbed him last week by turning down a request to meet when the two are in New York later this month for the United Nations General Assembly.

"We've had our discussions. Our schedules on this visit didn't work out," Netanyahu said.

The Israeli leader also pushed back on the idea that he is upset with the Obama administration for not drawing a red line with Iran over its development of nuclear capabilities. He made it clear last week that he is growing frustrated with the United States for continuing to rely on peaceful methods and generated speculation that Israel is getting ready to strike Iran on its own.

"No," he said Sunday. "President Obama has said that he's determined to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons and I appreciate that and I respect that." Asked again if Obama has thrown Israel under the bus by not being more firm with Iran -- a reference to a charge by Romney that Obama has "thrown allies like Israel under the bus" in his first term -- Netanyahu replied, "There is no bus."

Still, the Israeli leader warned that Iran is "six months away from being about 90 percent of having the rich uranium for an atom bomb" and emphasized that inherent in Obama's stance is that he is prepared to "act before they get nuclear weapons."

Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, also appeared on "Meet the Press." She said the administration is prepared to do whatever it takes to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon -- including the use of military force -- but said Iran isn't as far along in its capabilities as Netanyahu suggested.

"They aren't there yet," Rice said. "There is time and space for the pressure we are mounting ... in terms of sanctions ... to still wield results."

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