Published time: March 03, 2015 15:50
Edited time: March 03, 2015 16:34
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced his fierce opposition to Iran’s nuclear program in front of a joint session of Congress Tuesday, a speech in which he said the world’s greatest danger is the meeting of militant Islam with nuclear weapons.
On Monday, Netanyahu appeared in Washington before his controversial speech to Congress and just weeks before his reelection to speak to the kingpin of the Israeli lobby in the US, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
The prime minister was invited by Republican lawmakers who bypassed the White House and State Department, ruffling more than a few political feathers in the US capital.
At least 55 congressional Democrats have announced they will boycott Netanyahu’s speech, according to the Hill, again showing political fractures in Washington. The Israeli prime minister has said he believed the “two-party leadership” of Congress had invited him, but congressional aides said they knew of no congressional Democrats who had been consulted, according to Reuters.
Based largely on the break in protocol for a head-of-state visit, US President Barack Obama has refused to meet the Israeli PM during his visit, while Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry are both abroad.
Netanyahu has repeatedly spoken out — in the most bellicose of terms — against ongoing negotiations between Iran, the United States and other world powers regarding Tehran’s nuclear program.
US President Barack Obama said on Monday that a deal is still possible. While Iran is still “more likely than not” to reject a deal, the odds of success are better today than three or five months ago, Obama told Reuters.
Speaking before AIPAC on Monday, Netanyahu briefly touched on the subject of Iran, calling it “the foremost state sponsor of terrorism in the world,” adding there must be no way Iran achieves a nuclear weapon.
Netanyahu said on Monday that in his speech before Congress, he would not attack US President Obama, a man the prime minister said he had much respect for, as well as the office of the US president.
“Both Democratic and Republican presidents have worked together” to support Israel, in providing vital defense funding and prime trade opportunities, he said.
Netanyahu also brushed off any criticism of the congressional address as he thanked both Democratic and Republican members of Congress for their consistent support of Israel.
Those congressional supporters, he said, have Israel’s “boundless gratitude.”