President Barack Obama on Thursday called US support for Israel "sacrosanct," and said he wanted the country to maintain its "military superiority" as he prepares to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The two leaders are expected to make discussions about Iran's nuclear development program a priority during their planned meeting Monday at the White House.
Obama spoke Thursday during a re-election campaign fundraiser in New York, where he discussed geopolitical changes created by popular uprisings in the Arab world.
"One of our long-term goals in that region is to make sure that the sacrosanct commitment that we make to Israel's security is not only a matter of providing them the military capabilities they need, not only providing the sort of qualitative military edge that they need in a very tough neighborhood," Obama said.
The United States also should cooperate with Israel "to try to bring about a peace in the region that can be lasting," Obama said. "And that is a challenge."
As he discussed foreign policy, a woman yelled out, "Use your leadership! No war in Iran!"
Obama smiled and responded by saying, "Nobody's announced a war, young lady. You're jumping the gun a little bit."
He recommended reviving the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process as one step toward lasting peace in the Mideast.
At the moment, better relations with Palestinians have become a lesser issue for Israel as its leaders consider a pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.
Netanyahu and other Israeli officials say Iran's nuclear program is designed to eventually produce nuclear weapons. The Iranians say their nuclear program is for entirely peaceful purposes.
Netanyahu said earlier that Iran's nuclear program will be "at the center of our talks" in Washington next week.
He accused the Iranians of moving quickly with their nuclear program while disregarding the international community's interest.
White House press spokesman Jay Carney on Wednesday said that "all options are on the table" with Iran, but said the Iranians have not started building nuclear weapons.
As a result, the United States has the "time and latitude to continue the policy" of pressuring Iran with sanctions to halt its nuclear program, he said.
Any military action against Iran "threatens greater instability in the region," Carney said.