Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that his controversial speech before Congress hasn’t damaged his country’s relationship with the US, as many have claimed.
“Reports of the demise of the US-Israeli relations, is not only premature, they’re just wrong! You’re here to tell the world that our alliance is stronger than ever,” Netanyahu said at a speech before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “It’s going to get even stronger in the coming years.”
Netanyahu is in Washington to give a Tuesday speech before Congress that is expected to be critical of US negotiations with Iran about Tehran’s nuclear program. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) invited Netanyahu without telling the White House and a steady drumbeat of leaks from both countries suggest the US-Israeli relationship has become toxic.
However, Netanyahu insisted he has nothing but respect for President Barack Obama.
“My speech is not intended to show any disrespect to President Obama or the esteemed office that he holds. I have great respect for both!” Netanyahu shouted in his Monday speech. “The last thing that I would want is for Israel to become a partisan issue. And I regret that some people have misperceived my visit here this week as doing that.”
In his AIPAC speech, Netanyahu also explained the differences between the US and Israel. US leaders, he suggested, have a worldview that doesn’t fully appreciate how vulnerable Israel is to attacks from its dangerous neighbours.
“We disagree on the best way to prevent Iran from developing those weapons. Disagreements among allies are only natural from time to time,” he said. “The United States of America is a large country, one of the largest; Israel is a small country, one of the smallest. America lives in one of the world’s safest neighborhoods. Israel lives in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods. America is the strongest power in the world. Israel is strong, but it’s much more vulnerable. American leaders worry about the security of their country; Israeli leaders worry about the survival of their country.”
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