News / Middle East

    Netanyahu on 'Historic Mission' to Stop Iran Nuclear Deal

    FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Jan. 4, 2015. Netanyahu is headed to Washington to give a controversial address to the U.S. Congress.
    FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Jan. 4, 2015. Netanyahu is headed to Washington to give a controversial address to the U.S. Congress.
    VOA News

    Two days ahead of a controversial speech in Washington by Israel's prime minister, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is attempting to shore up the countries' relationship amid diplomatic friction.

    "The prime minister of Israel (Benjamin Netanyahu) is welcome to speak in the United States, obviously, and we have a closer relationship with Israel right now in terms of security than in any time in history," Kerry told ABC television's This Week program.

    Netanyahu arrived in Washington Sunday afternoon. Earlier in the day Netanyahu said he was on a "historic mission" to try to stop a nuclear deal with Iran. He is expected to address lawmakers in Washington Tuesday.

    Break with tradition

    He surprised Washington earlier this year by announcing a visit at the invitation of Speaker of the House John Boehner, breaking with historical protocol of coordinating with the White House.

    The invitation by Republicans in Congress has divided Americans.

    Nearly half surveyed said lawmakers should not have invited Netanyahu to speak without notifying the White House, according to a poll by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal. Thirty percent of respondents thought the invitation was acceptable, while 22 percent were unsure.

    Kerry called the deviation from protocol "odd, if not unique," but defended U.S. support for Israel. He said he had spoken with Netanyahu as recently as Saturday.

    The State Department had announced the country's top diplomat would not be in Washington during Netanyahu's visit, as he heads to Switzerland for more talks with Iran's foreign minister.

    "We are going to test whether or not diplomacy can prevent this weapon from being created, so you do not have to turn to additional measures including the possibility of a military confrontation," Kerry told ABC.

    "Our hope is that diplomacy can work. And I believe, given our success of the interim agreement, we deserve the benefit of the doubt to find out whether or not we can get a similarly good agreement with respect to the future," he said.

    The White House was angry that Boehner did not consult with it before extending the invitation to Netanyahu to speak to the lawmakers. Some Democratic lawmakers plan to boycott the Netanyahu speech on Tuesday.

    Nuclear talks deadline

    The P5+1 (the U.S., Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany) are facing a June 30 deadline for a deal that cuts Iran's uranium enrichment program in exchange for lifting sanctions that have destroyed the Iranian economy.

    On Saturday, the Israeli prime minister said he respects President Barack Obama and believes in strong ties with the United States, but opposed "the agreement being formulated with Iran and the major powers, which could endanger our (Israel's) very existence."

    Netanyahu said the deal is too lenient with Tehran and will allow it to make a nuclear bomb that will endanger Israel, an accusation Washington denies.

    Netanyahu made a rare pilgrimage to pray at the Western Wall, Jerusalem's holiest site, before his visit to Washington.

    "As prime minister of Israel, it is my obligation to see to the security of Israel; therefore, we strongly oppose the agreement being formulated with Iran and the major powers, which could endanger our [Israel's] very existence," he said Saturday.

    Iran insists it has no plans to build atomic weapons. It said its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful civilian purposes.

    Scott Bobb contributed to this report from Jerusalem. Some material for this story came from AP, AFP and Reuters.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
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    by: J, Russ from: USA
    March 03, 2015 9:39 AM
    Biting the hand that feeds you is not very smart. For the 1st time in Israeli/U S relations, Netanyahu and John Boehner, have chosen to make the relationship political. As the polls indicate Americans do not appreciate arrogant foreigners coming to our shores and trying to influence United States of America foreign policy.

    The United States of America will chart our foreign policy course alone, thank you Bibi. Second we also do not appreciate some foreign politician attempting to use the United States of America as a cheap election shill. Go home Bibi and reap the ill-mannered and imprudent political whirlwind you and John have created.

    by: sam
    March 03, 2015 2:14 AM
    Glorious and loving children of Abraham, both real and unreal ones. Who are graffling through curses after curses as a reflection, reaction and resound to their misdemeanant ways. World is yet to realise peace.

    by: Gomel from: Zahle
    March 02, 2015 11:42 PM
    Why the Israel army is fighting along with ISIS - Is that why we heard of the ISIS got financing from the Arabs and the Russian , support from China - I don't understand who we are fighting or just
    trying to screw every ones to make money on both ends .....is that Israel really is ??? No wonder we've never been peace with any one - We've been making all hatreds around to live on it for life ??? what Israel is trying to do ??? just betraying left and right in turns to make money ???? or we're trying to kill every one all around this planet ???? It seems all like that .......IMHO
    Regards.

    by: J Russ from: USA
    March 02, 2015 1:49 PM
    For the 1st time in Israeli/U S relations, Netanyahau and John Boehner, have chosen to make the relationship political. As the polls indict Americans do not appreciate arrogant foreigners coming to our shores and trying to influence United States of America foreign policy. The United States of America will chart our foreign policy course alone, thank you Bibi. Second we also do not appreciate some foreign politician attempting to use the United States of America as a cheap election shill. Go home Bibi and reap the ill-mannered and imprudent political whirlwind you and John have created.

    by: RS from: Canada
    March 02, 2015 9:45 AM
    Let us not forget Persia's mighty empire which reached the doorsteps of Europe. How many islamic countries would like to see Israel annihilated? Once they have the bomb, there's no going back. Look at North Korea. Nobody dares to invade them.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    March 03, 2015 11:51 AM
    You point is confusing, you hiding behind history then you're talking about ethics and then you want destroy NK? Sounds like despotism.

    by: freeman from: Ghana
    March 02, 2015 5:16 AM
    Pls, I don't think you need to my comment written earlier if you really believe in a free would, freedom of opinion etc, thanks.

    by: Feeman from: Ghana
    March 02, 2015 5:04 AM
    I was happy when Obama was elected the first black president in the U.S, and this is an important opportunity to demonstrate the power of God through the black nan to the world to change the perceptions about the us, but I am really disappointed. Obama is now helping the enemies of Israel and God, and as a matter of fact, of Christianity to achieve their diabolical agendas. This is very sad.

    i

    by: sam
    March 01, 2015 11:46 PM
    Who cares for world peace , cares not Benjamin Netanyahu.

    by: Till from: International
    March 01, 2015 4:33 PM
    I would suggest that the most important issue is not the process by which Mr. Netanyahu has been invited to Washington but whether or not it is in the best interest of the United States and Israel to invite him in the first place.
    Inviting the hardline anti-Iranian Netanyahu while at the same time attempting to reach a long-term, satisfactory agreement with Iran is at best incompetence on the part of the U.S. The U.S. attempt to demonstrate good will and willingness to reach a fair agreement with Iran is completely discredited by the invitation of Mr. Netanyahu.
    Similarly, unless Mr. Netanyahu wants war with Iran, which would not be condusive to Israel's safety, it is not in the interest of Israel to derail possible solutions to the diplomatic problems with Iran for this ensures an endless crisis. By having Mr. Netanyahu speak in Washington, the U.S. directly supports his policy, no matter who invited him - to the world, and Iran especially, it looks the same. Even more so because Pres. Obama is busy slamming the GOP over the invitation process without indicating that he opposes the invitation.
    In Response

    by: Robert from: Ma
    March 02, 2015 10:39 AM
    This is all about the Republicans and their politics of obstruction and destruction. The Republicans demonstrate time and time again that they are the true enemies of the United States.Affairs of State are the responsibility of the President and not the Congress. Boehner is completely out of line and treasonous. The Republicans care nothing about the USA or its people. The Republicans sole aim is to protect the rich and to keep the oil that is destroying this planet and the Human Race flowing. Their are no people more evil and morally repugnant than the Republican party.

    by: TCS from: Bradley Beach
    March 01, 2015 4:14 PM
    Netanyahu is Israel's George Bush.
    Comments page of 2
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