TEL AVIV (JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended his decision to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress regarding Iran’s nuclear program.
“As Prime Minister of Israel, I am obligated to make every effort in order to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons that would be aimed at the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said Sunday at the start of his weekly Cabinet meeting. “This effort is worldwide and I will go anywhere I am invited in order to enunciate the State of Israel’s position and in order to defend its future and its existence.”
Officials from the Obama administration, as well as Netanyahu’s Israeli political rivals, have criticized the speech due to take place in March. John Boehner, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, invited Netanyahu without first notifying President Barack Obama in what the White House said broke established protocol.
Netanyahu supports increasing sanctions on Iran, which Obama opposes because he said it could endanger ongoing U.S.-led negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program. The Israeli leader said at the Cabinet meeting that the agreement likely to emerge from the negotiations would place Israel in danger by leaving Iran with the capacity to produce a nuclear weapon.
“In the coming weeks, the major powers are liable to reach a framework agreement with Iran, an agreement that is liable to leave Iran as a nuclear threshold state, which would endanger – first and foremost – the existence of the State of Israel,” he said.