Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended on Sunday a planned speech to the U.S. Congress about Iran, saying he had a moral obligation to take every opportunity to speak out on an issue that poses a mortal threat to his country.
His visit to Washington in March has opened up a political rift in the United States and has drawn accusations in Israel that Netanyahu is undermining a strategic alliance to win an election due two weeks after the trip.
Briefing his cabinet on the speech to be made on March 3 to a joint meeting of Congress, Netanyahu said his priority was to urge the United States and other powers not to negotiate an Iranian nuclear deal that might endanger Israel.
“In coming weeks, the powers are liable to reach a framework agreement with Iran, an agreement liable to leave Iran as a nuclear threshold state,” he said in remarks carried by Israeli broadcasters.
“As prime minister of Israel, I am obligated to make every effort to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weaponry that will be aimed at the State of Israel. This effort is global and I will go anywhere I am invited to make the State of Israel’s case and defend its future and existence.”
John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, invited Netanyahu without informing the Obama administration, in what the White House deemed a breach of protocol.
Netanyahu, a right-winger who has a testy relationship with Barack Obama, will not meet the president during his visit. Obama has often sparred with Netanyahu over strategy on Iran and the Palestinians.