Netanyahu to Congress: ‘We Are Better Off’ Without the Emerging U.S. Deal With Iran

The Israeli prime minister said on Tuesday that American-led negotiations have resulted in a potential “bad deal” on Iran’s nuclear program, and that “we are better off without it.”

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives to address to Congress on March 3, 2015 at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Netanyahu was invited by House Speaker John Boehner to address Congress without informing the White House.
National Journal
Marina Koren
Add to Briefcase
Marina Koren
March 3, 2015, 6:16 a.m.

Ben­jamin Net­an­yahu knows what every­one in Wash­ing­ton was think­ing this morn­ing.

“I know that my speech has been the sub­ject of much con­tro­versy,” the Is­raeli prime min­is­ter said dur­ing an ad­dress to a joint ses­sion of Con­gress on Tues­day. “I deeply re­gret that some per­ceive my be­ing here as polit­ic­al. That was nev­er my in­ten­tion. I want to thank you, Demo­crats and Re­pub­lic­ans, for your com­mon sup­port for Is­rael year after year, dec­ade after dec­ade.”

Net­an­yahu re­ceived a warm wel­come in Con­gress, get­ting a stand­ing ova­tion be­fore he began speak­ing. He praised Pres­id­ent Obama for his sup­port of Is­rael, and thanked the U.S. “for everything you’ve done for Is­rael.”

(RE­LATED: Demo­crats Fear Net­an­yahu Boy­cott Deep­ens In­tern­al Di­vide)

Then, he got right to Ir­an.

“I’m stand­ing here in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and the dif­fer­ence is so stark,” Net­an­yahu said. “Amer­ica’s found­ing doc­u­ment prom­ises life, liberty, and the pur­suit of hap­pi­ness. Ir­an’s found­ing doc­u­ment pledges death, tyranny, and the pur­suit of ji­had, and states are col­lapsing across the Middle East.”

Net­an­yahu, as ex­pec­ted, de­livered an ag­gress­ive warn­ing against the nuc­le­ar deal tak­ing shape between U.S. and Ir­a­ni­an of­fi­cials. “My friends, for over a year we’ve been told that no deal is bet­ter than a bad deal. Well, this is a bad deal. It is a very bad deal,” he said. “We are bet­ter off without it.”

(RE­LATED: Net­an­yahu De­liv­ers Just What Obama Feared)

The deal emer­ging from Amer­ic­an-led ne­go­ti­ations, Net­an­yahu said, makes two sig­ni­fic­ant con­ces­sions: It leaves Ir­an with en­rich­ment in­fra­struc­ture that could al­low it to build a nuc­le­ar weapon in the fu­ture. And the in­ter­na­tion­al in­spect­ors the pact calls for will track any vi­ol­a­tions, he said, but they won’t be able to stop them.

“That’s why this deal is so bad. It doesn’t block Ir­an’s path to the bomb, it paves Ir­an’s path to the bomb,” Net­an­yahu said. “So why would any­one make this deal? Be­cause they hope that Ir­an will change for the bet­ter in the com­ing years. Or they be­lieve that the al­tern­at­ive to this deal is worse. Well, I dis­agree. I don’t be­lieve that Ir­an’s rad­ic­al re­gime will change for the bet­ter after this deal.”

Of­fer­ing to lift U.S. sanc­tions against Ir­an is not the way to go either, he said. “If Ir­an wants to be treated like a nor­mal coun­try,” Net­an­yahu said, “let it act like a nor­mal coun­try.”

All sides in­volved in ne­go­ti­ations want to keep Ir­an from gain­ing the cap­ab­il­ity to ac­quire a nuc­le­ar weapon. Net­an­yahu has ex­pressed skep­ti­cism of the talks be­fore, say­ing that they threaten his coun­try’s na­tion­al se­cur­ity, but these re­marks had re­ceived con­sid­er­able more at­ten­tion be­cause of polit­ic­al im­plic­a­tions here and in Is­rael.

On Tues­day, the prime min­is­ter seemed to sug­gest that dip­lomacy alone, which the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion be­lieves is the way to curb Ir­an’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram, isn’t work­ing. “At a time when many hope that Ir­an will join the com­munity of na­tions, Ir­an is busy gob­bling up the na­tions,” he said. “We must all stand to­geth­er to stop Ir­an’s march of con­quest, sub­jug­a­tion, and ter­ror.”

Net­an­yahu said that Ir­an poses a more press­ing threat than the ter­ror­ist group Is­lam­ic State. “The dif­fer­ence is that IS­IS is armed with butcher knives, cap­tured weapons, and You­Tube,” he said. “Ir­an could be soon armed with in­ter­con­tin­ent­al bal­list­ic mis­siles and nuc­le­ar bombs. We must al­ways re­mem­ber — I’ll say it one more time — the greatest danger fa­cing our world is the mar­riage of mil­it­ant Is­lam with nuc­le­ar weapons. To de­feat IS­IS and let Ir­an get nuc­le­ar weapons would be to win the battle but lose the war.”

In Janu­ary, House Speak­er John Boehner caught the White House off guard when, without con­sult­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials, he in­vited Net­an­yahu to ad­dress Con­gress. On Cap­it­ol Hill, the vis­it quickly turned par­tis­an, and nearly 60 Demo­crats in the House and Sen­ate skipped Net­an­yahu’s vis­it in protest of what they be­lieve is an at­tack on Pres­id­ent Obama by con­gres­sion­al Re­pub­lic­ans. On Monday, Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry, while speak­ing to re­port­ers in Geneva, in­dir­ectly warned Net­an­yahu against shar­ing in­form­a­tion about the on­go­ing talks dur­ing Tues­day’s speech.

(RE­LATED: The Cycle of Petu­lance in the U.S. and Is­rael)

In Is­rael, the vis­it is es­sen­tially a cam­paign stop for Net­an­yahu, whose Likud Party is fa­cing an elec­tion on March 17. It gives the prime min­is­ter a chance to build sup­port for his party at home, where voters are start­ing to won­der if his Ir­an policy is work­ing or has already failed.

Obama has said he won’t meet with Net­an­yahu this week so as not to ap­pear as if he is try­ing to in­flu­ence the Is­raeli elec­tions. White House press sec­ret­ary Josh Earn­est said Monday that the pres­id­ent didn’t watch Net­an­yahu’s speech at the Amer­ic­an Is­rael Pub­lic Af­fairs Com­mit­tee’s policy con­fer­ence, and that he likely won’t watch the en­tire ad­dress to Con­gress.

Many people were itch­ing to go to the his­tor­ic speech, however. Boehner’s of­fice told The New York Times it re­ceived re­quests for 10 times as many tick­ets as there were seats avail­able, and Sen. Chuck Schu­mer, D-N.Y., said, “The tick­ets are hot­ter than fresh latkes.”

{{ BIZOBJ (slideshow: 894) }}

What We're Following See More »
BIGGEST SHAKEUP OF ALL?
Bannon Is Out at the White House
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

First, it was Sean Spicer. Then Reince Priebus. Now, presidential adviser Steve Bannon, perhaps the administration's biggest lightning rod for criticism, is out. “White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a statement. “We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.” That's not to say the parting of ways isn't controversial. Bannon says he submitted his resignation on Aug. 7, but earlier today, "the president had told senior aides that he had decided to remove Mr. Bannon."

Source:
INITIATIVE TARGETED GUN RETAILERS, OTHERS
Trump Ends Obama’s “Operation Choke Point”
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The Trump administration has ended Operation Choke Point, the anti-fraud initiative started under the Obama administration that many Republicans argued was used to target gun retailers and other businesses that Democrats found objectionable. Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd told GOP representatives in a Wednesday letter that the long-running program had ended, bringing a conclusion to a chapter in the Obama years that long provoked and angered conservatives who saw Choke Point as an extra-legal crackdown on politically disfavored groups."

Source:
LIBERALS RAISE CONFLICT OF ISSUE QUESTIONS
Gorsuch to Deliver Speech at Trump Hotel
6 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Liberal groups are raising questions about a speaking appearance Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch plans to make next month at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. Gorsuch is scheduled to headline a luncheon celebrating the 50th anniversary of conservative group The Fund for American Studies on September 28, days before the next SCOTUS term begins October 2. Steve Slattery, a spokesman for The Fund for American Studies, said Gorsuch had nothing to do with venue choice, which was made long before the group asked Gorsuch to speak."

Source:
CYBER COMMAND ELEVATED AT DOD
Administration Faces Exodus of Top Cybersecurity Officials
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The Trump administration has lost a handful of individuals serving in top cybersecurity roles across the federal government in recent weeks, even as it has struggled to fill high-ranking IT positions. The developments present hurdles for the new administration and speak to the longstanding challenge the federal government faces in competing with the private sector for top tech talent." Among those resigning is Richard Staropoli, "a former U.S. Secret Service agent who served as chief information officer (CIO) of the Department of Homeland Security for just three months," and Dave DeVries, the CIO at OPM. Separately, the White House announced today that President Trump has directed that United States Cyber Command be elevated to the status of a Unified Combatant Command focused on cyberspace operations.

Source:
SAYS TRUMP JUST ATTACKING REPUBLICANS
Former Top Aide to McConnell Says GOPers Should Abandon Trump
1 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login