Washington, March 3 Ahead of Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the US Congress, President Barack Obama slammed his approach on a nuclear deal with Iran even as the Israeli prime minister struck a conciliatory note.
Pointing to the 2013 interim deal with Iran, Obama told Reuters news agency on Monday that Netanyahu, who has come to Washington at the invitation of Republican speaker John Boehner in the face of White House opposition, has been wrong before.
“Netanyahu made all sorts of claims. This was going to be a terrible deal. This was going to result in Iran getting $50 billion worth of relief. Iran would not abide by the agreement. None of that has come true,” he said.
The White House has sought to paint Obama’s refusal to meet Netanyahu two weeks before the Israeli election as a principled stand so as not to appear to take sides.
Netanyahu, meanwhile, reaffirmed that the US-Israeli relationship remains strong and the two nations “will weather this current disagreement” over his speech.
“My speech is not intended to show any disrespect to Obama or the esteemed office that he holds – I have great respect for both,” he said in his address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee annual policy conference.
“Our friendship will weather the current disagreement as well, to grow even stronger in the future – because we share the same dreams… because the values that unite us are much stronger than the differences that divide us,” he said.
Answering critics who have accused Netanyahu of politicising the issue of Iranian nuclear talks, the prime minister said his Tuesday speech is “not intended to inject Israel into the American partisan debate”.
Netanyahu instead framed his Tuesday address as part of a “moral obligation” to sound the alarm on Iran, which he warned has “vowed to annihilate Israel, and if it develops nuclear weapons, it can achieve that goal”.
“As prime minister of Israel, I have a moral obligation to speak up in the face of these threats while there is time to avert them,” he said.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)