Can go anywhere to warn about Iran: Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday dismissed criticism that he was undermining the authority of US president by accepting an invitation from the Republicans to address the Congress, saying he would speak "anywhere" to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear capability.
Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday dismissed criticism that he was undermining the authority of US president by accepting an invitation from the Republicans to address the Congress, saying he would speak "anywhere" to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear capability.
US Speaker John Boehner's invitation to Netanyahu to speak before the Congress in March has raised eyebrows and several officials in Obama administration have severely criticised the Israeli leader's acceptance of the offer and spurned him by publicly announcing that President Barack Obama will not be meeting him during the trip.
Invitations to foreign leaders are normally arranged by the White House.
"As the Prime Minister of Israel, it is my duty to make every effort to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons that will be directed at us. This effort is an international one and I will go to every place where I am invited in order to make Israel's case and to safeguard its future and existence," the Israeli Premier said at the start of his weekly cabinet meeting.
"In the coming weeks the world powers may reach a framework agreement with Iran that runs the risk of Iran being on the threshold of obtaining nuclear weapons, which would first and foremost endanger the existence of the state of Israel," he said rejecting criticisms in the US and also at home.
Arguing that Iran foments conflict in different areas of the region, Netanyahu said that such a threat should not be allowed to grow even more with the acquisition of nuclear weapons.
"This is the same Iran that has taken over Lebanon and Syria and is doing the same now in Yemen and Iraq. This is the same Iran that is preparing an active front against us on the Golan Heights as well as in southern Lebanon," the Israeli leader said.
"This same Iran should not be allowed to possess nuclear weapons," he stressed.
In background briefings to US media outlets, Obama administration officials were quoted as saying that Netanyahu was "playing politics" at the expense of the US-Israeli strategic relationship.
The Washington Post quoted senior American officials who attacked the Israeli Prime Minister and Israel's Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer.
A media report dealing with the latest Netanyahu-Obama
standoff published on Friday said that during a two-hour meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday, Dermer did not mention Netanyahu's upcoming visit to the US, his planned address to a joint session of the Congress or the public invitation that House Speaker John Boehner was to issue less than a day later.
The Israeli Premier's political rivals at home also voiced strong objections charging him of trying to use the platform to further his political interests barely two weeks before local elections even at the cost of risking US administration's precious support.
Former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that while the United States was helping Israel with a number of critical issues such as the Palestinians' request to join the International Criminal Court of Justice in The Hague, Netanyahu was sabotaging Israel's relationship with Washington.
"A responsible Prime Minister who first thinks of the good of his country's citizens does not do such a thing," Livni said, adding, "A responsible Prime Minister would know to work with the President of the United States, with any president, and protect our most important interests".
Netanyahu and Obama's strained relationship has been a topic of discussion for the last few years despite both the leaders repeatedly committing to maintaining strong US-Israel relations.