By Caitlin Burke
CBN News — One day before his address to the U.S. Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a rousing reception Monday at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) gathering in Washington.
After weeks of controversy over his appearance in the capital, Netanyahu downplayed differences with President Barack Obama, saying the strong bond between Israel and the United States will continue in spite of deep differences over the approach to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
“My speech is not intended to show any disrespect to President Obama or the office he holds,” Netanyahu said. “I have deep respect for both. I am deeply grateful for his support and show should you be.”
Israel’s second-longest serving prime minister also highlighted sharp disagreements between U.S. and Israeli leaders in the past, including Secretary of State George Marshall’s “vehement” objection to Israel’s declaration of statehood in 1948, which Israeli Prime Minister went ahead with over Marshall’s protest.
About Iran, Netanyahu said it “envelops the entire world with its tentacles of terror.”
“This is what Iran is doing now without nuclear weapons. Imagine what Iran would do with nuclear weapons. And this same Iran vows to annihilate Israel. If it develops nuclear weapons, it would have the means to achieve that goal. We must not let that happen.”
For the Israeli prime minister, this trip to the U.S. is a “fateful, even historic, mission.”
Netanyahu says he sees himself as an emissary for all Israelis and for the Jewish people. His mission, he believes, is to protect Israel and the Jewish people from the threat of a nuclear Iran.
“As prime minister of Israel, it is my obligation to see to the security of Israel; therefore, we strongly oppose the agreement being formulated with Iran and the major powers, which could endanger our [Notes:Israel’s] very existence. In the face of this danger we must unite and also explain the dangers stemming from this agreement, to Israel, to the region and to the world,” he said before boarding his flight.
Netanyahu arrived in Washington on Sunday evening ahead of his speeches at the pro-Israel lobby, AIPAC, and what has become a politically controversial address to Congress Tuesday on Iran.
Democrat lawmakers reportedly plan to sit out Netanyahu’s speech, calling it an affront to the president because it was allegedly set up without consulting the White House.
Netanyahu considers any deal with Iran that doesn’t end its ability to produce nuclear weapons unacceptable — a clear contrast to the diplomatic negotiations that President Barack Obama is spearheading to try to make a deal with Iran over that program.
And according to a Bethlehem-based news agency, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported Saturday that Obama prevented an Israeli military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities in 2014 by threatening to shoot down Israeli jets before they could reach their targets.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry said the diplomatic nuclear deal with Iran will help ensure Israel’s security.
“We want to recognize the main goal here is to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. And on that, Israel and the United States agree. And the testimony, in fact, to the efficiency with which we’ve been able to pursue that is the interim agreement that is in place today. Israel is safer today because of the interim agreement that we created,” Kerry stated.
U.S. and Iranian officials reported progress in the latest talks on a deal that would freeze Iran’s nuclear program for 10 years but then allow it to slowly restart during the final years.
Netanyahu hopes to encourage U.S. lawmakers to question the administration’s plan and delay the March 24 deadline for an agreement.
Report via CBN News
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