CBN News, WASHINGTON, D.C. — Addressing members of both houses of Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assured the world Tuesday that even if his country has to stand alone in the face of the Iranian nuclear threat, “Israel will stand.”
“We are no longer scattered among the nations defenseless. We the Jewish nation can defend ourselves,” he said.
He was received warmly by members of both parties inside a packed House chamber and was interrupted by applause some 40 times.
Netanyahu said the nuclear deal being negotiated with Iran and leading world powers, including the United States, will spark an arms war in the Middle East.
“This is a bad deal, the alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal,” he said, arguing Israel needs a deal that will keep it on the map.
Watch Netanyahu’s entire speech here:
He offered Americans a complete look at the threat Iran poses, not just to Israel but to the United States and the rest of the world, by explaining the influence it wields over bad actors across the Middle East.
Unlike the White House at its recent conference to counter “violent extremism,” Netanyahu didn’t shy away from calling Iran’s brand of evil “militant Islam.”
“The greatest danger facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons,” he said.
The prime minister’s much-anticipated address was intended to strengthen Congress’ hand in pressing for tougher sanctions against Iran.
However, it’s been controversial both in the United States and abroad. Speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu without consulting with President Barack Obama, which was a break with protocol. His visit also comes just weeks before his name will appear on the ballot in Israel.
President Obama declined to meet with him while he’s in Washington, citing the timing so close to a contested election.
In his speech to Congress, Netanyahu praised the president for what he’s done for Israel both publicly and privately.
“My speech is not intended to show any disrespect to President Obama or the office he holds. I have great respect for both,” he said to resounding applause Monday at the AIPAC annual policy conference.
Still, the prime minister said Tuesday the nuclear deal that Secretary of State John Kerry is negotiating with Iran right now, “doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb, it paves Iran’s path to the bomb.”
He said the deal assumes Iran will improve its behavior, but that Iran has proven time and again that it can’t be trusted.
He compared Iran’s race to gain a nuclear bomb to that of North Korea’s. Once weapons inspectors realized North Korea was on the verge, they were kicked out and it was too late, he said.
The Obama administration has urged Congress not to issue more sanctions, saying it will inhibit his ability to try to negotiate a peaceful resolution.
Fifty-six representatives and senators chose not attend Netanyahu’s speech, some in boycott.
Speaking to the press afterwards, Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., said he resented the “condescending tone” of Netanyahu’s speech.
He also said he believes the prime minister mischaracterized the nuclear deal being negotiated by the White House.
It remains to be seen if Netanyahu’s speech will have any influence on the U.S.-Iranian negotiations or this month’s Israeli elections.
Democrats respond to Netanyahu’s speech:
Report via CBN News
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