Netanyahu Ensnared in Congress’s Partisan Web

“I can assure you that my sole intention in accepting it was to voice Israel’s grave concerns about a potential nuclear agreement with Iran that could threaten the survival of my country.” – Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

Netanyahu and Susan Rice

PM Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Susan Rice, US national security advisor, in Jerusalem on May 7, 2014. (Photo: Haim Zach/GPO/FLASH90)

US National Security Advisor Susan Rice warned in a TV interview that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was endangering the “fabric” of US-Israeli relations by insisting on addressing Congress over President Barack Obama’s objections. Netanyahu is scheduled to speak on March 3, less than a month before the deadline for the Iranian nuclear negotiations. He intends to convince Congress that, based on the available details, the proposed agreement between the US-led Western negotiators and Iran will not succeed in preventing the latter from developing nuclear weapons.

“What has happened over the last several weeks, by virtue of the invitation that was issued by the Speaker and the acceptance of it by Prime Minister Netanyahu, two weeks in advance of his election, is that on both sides there has now been injected a degree of partisanship which is not only unfortunate; it’s destructive of the fabric of the relationship,” said Rice in a PBS interview with Charlie Rose.

Israel is holding national elections on March 17.

US National Security Advisor Warns of Weakened Ties

“I’m not going to ascribe motives to the prime minister,” Rice continued. “Let him explain for himself. The point is we want the relationship between the United States and Israel to unquestionably be strong, immutable, regardless of political seasons in either country, regardless of which country maybe in charge in either country. We’ve worked very hard to have that and we will work very hard to maintain that.”

Congressional Democrats had invited Netanyahu for a closed-door meeting intended to dispel the perception that the Israeli prime minister’s visit was a statement on partisan politics in the US. However, Netanyahu declined the invitation as feeding into that perception.

“I regret that the invitation to address the special joint session of Congress has been perceived by some to be political or partisan,” he wrote in a letter of response. “I can assure you that my sole intention in accepting it was to voice Israel’s grave concerns about a potential nuclear agreement with Iran that could threaten the survival of my country.”

Israel has expressed a number of concerns regarding details it had received of the proposed nuclear agreement between the P5+1 and Iran. One of the most significant is the discovery that such a deal would keep Iran only one year away from obtaining a nuclear weapon instead of the several years originally planned.

Arab states are also gravely concerned about the outcome of negotiations. One official told the Wall Street Journal, “At this stage, we prefer a collapse of the diplomatic process to a bad deal.”

By: Atara Beck, World Israel News