Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem on Monday that the “real question” that should be asked about his upcoming Washington trip “is how could any responsible Israeli prime minister refuse to speak to Congress on a matter so important to Israel’s survival.”
“How could anyone refuse an invitation to speak on a matter that could affect our very existence when such an invitation is offered?” he said.
Netanyahu also defended the timing of the March 3 speech, which coincides with the AIPAC mega-conference in D.C. but the White House complains is too close to Israeli elections.
“The deadline for reaching an agreement with Iran is March 24th. That’s the date that drives the speech. Now is the time for Israel to make its case – now before it’s too late. Would it be better to complain about a deal that threatens the security of Israel after it’s signed? I believe it’s more responsible to speak out now to try to influence the negotiations while they’re still ongoing,” he said.
The prime minister added “the whole point of Zionism is that the Jewish people would no longer be spectators to the decision-making that determines our fate.”
“Remember, we were once powerless. We were once voiceless. We couldn’t even speak on our own behalf. Well, we can and we do now,” he said. “The answer to all three questions are the same. Why Congress? Why Washington? Why now? Because of the grave dangers posed by the deal that is on the table right now.”
Netanyahu stressed that the “survival of Israel is not a partisan issue.”
“The fight against militant Islamic terrorism is not a partisan issue. The battle against the Islamic State, which just beheaded 21 Christians, is not a partisan issue. And the effort to prevent the Islamic Republic from building nuclear weapons, that’s not a partisan issue either,” he continued. “I think the pursuit of nuclear weapons by Iran is the most urgent security challenge facing the world. I think the greatest danger facing humanity is the possibility that any movement or any regime of militant Islam will arm itself with the weapons of mass destruction. Everything that we see in our region now will pale by comparison. Everything that we see in Europe will pale by comparison.”
“When a militant Islamic regime that is rampaging through the region right now – that’s what Iran is doing, it’s conducting a rampage through the region – when such a regime has nuclear weapons, the whole world will be in peril. Look at what Iran is doing now without nuclear weapons. States are collapsing. And Iran is plunging forward. It’s already controlling four capitals. It’s controlling now through its Houthi proxies the Bab-el-Mandeb Straits. It’s trying to envelope Israel with three terrorist tentacles – Lebanon, Hezbollah, Hamas in Gaza and now it’s trying to build with its Hezbollah proxies a third front in the Golan. Such a regime with nuclear weapons would be infinitely more dangerous to everyone, not only to Israel.”
Netanyahu asked if his address to a joint session of Congress “will prevent a dangerous deal with Iran from being signed.”
“Honestly, I don’t know. No one knows,” he replied.
“But I do know this – it’s my sacred duty as prime minister of Israel to make Israel’s case. On March 3rd, I’ll fulfill that duty, representing all the citizens of Israel before the two houses of Congress. And I will make the best case for Israel that I can, knowing that our case is just, that our case is sound, and that our case offers the best hope to resolve this issue peacefully.”