On the day before he will address a joint session of Congress, Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu told the annual AIPAC conference in Washington DC that relations between his country and the US have never been better. He told the approximately 16,000 attendees at the March 2 conference, "Reports of the demise of the Israeli-US relationship are not only premature, they're just wrong," while adding, "Our alliance is stronger than ever."
Both Netanyahu and House Speaker John Boehner have come under fire by Democrat who assert that the White House and appropriate protocol were bypassed in order to afford a bully pulpit for the Israeli leader. Approximately two dozen Democrats are slated to skip the address. As for Netanyahu, "My speech is not intended to disrespect President Obama or the esteemed office that he holds…I have great respect for both." He added that he "deeply appreciates" everything that President Obama has done for Israel.
Netanayahu argued that he has no partisan intentions in coming to Congress. His purpose, he said, is to speak out about the threat a nuclear Iran poses to Israel. At the AIPAC conference, Netanyahu illustrated his remarks with a map showing the extent of Iran’s support for global terrorism. He expressed the fear that with nuclear weapons, Iran can carry out its threat of annihilating Israel. "We must not let that happen," he said."No more" are Jews to remain passive in the face of threats of annihilation, he said. "Those days are over."
Netanyahu said Israel and the US agree on the need to prevent Iranian nuclear weapons, but disagree on how to do this.
The shared values held by the US and Israel are stronger than any disagreements they might have, said Netanyahu. Israel remains the sole democratic state in the Mideast, which he said is subsiding into “barbarism.”
"In a dark and savage and desperate Middle East, Israel is a beacon of light, humanity and hope.”
Netanyahu is facing an election on March 17, prompting some critics to claim that the Washington speech is a political ploy.
Also speaking at the conference was Ambassador Susan Power, who represents the US at the United Nations. "There will never be a sunset to America's commitment to Israel's security. Never," Power said as part of her extensive remarks. "You may have heard lately of tension in relationship between US and Israel," Power said while she called on conferees to "separate out politics, policy, and what the US does each and every day to combat anti-Semitism around the world, and fight attacks against Israel at the UN."
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