Netanyahu Rejects Criticism: I Am Determined to Address Congress

A bad deal is taking shape with Iran while people are concerned with protocol, prime minister says; Obama: 'Very real differences' exist between me and Netanyahu on Iran issue.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
An archive photo from May 24, 2011, showing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arriving to address a joint meeting of Congress at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Bloomberg

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that he is determined to address the U.S. Congress on Iran's nuclear program. Netanyahu rejected the criticism in the United States and Israel, saying that "while some are busy with protocol or politics, a bad deal with Iran is taking shape."

Speaking at a Likud election event, Netanyahu added that, as prime minister, it is his duty to do everything in his power to prevent a dangerous deal with Iran. "From the day Israel was established to this day, there have been essential differences between Israel and the U.S., and relations remained sound – this will be the case this time as well," he said.

"This is not a political issue or a party issue, neither here nor there. This is an existential issue, and I approach it with the fullest responsibility."

U.S. President Barack Obama also addressed the crisis over Netanyahu's planned speech, saying "very real differences" exist between him and Netanyahu over the negotiations with Iran and imposing new sanctions on Tehran.

Obama reiterated that he does not plan to meet Netanyahu during his planned visit in Washington because it is customary not to meet a foreign leader when an election nears in his country. "As much as I love Angela, if her election were two weeks away, she probably would not have received an invitation to the White House,” he said at a press conference alongside Merkel. "And she probably wouldn’t have asked for one."

The U.S. president rejected the demand made by Netanyahu and Republicans to impose new sanctions on Iran. "What the rush?" he asked. "Unless your view is that it's not possible to get a deal with Iran and it shouldn't even be tested. And that I cannot agree with.

Obama added that the negotiations with Iran reached a point in which Teheran has to decide if it accepts the deal that the powers are offering it or not. They were offered a deal that would allow them to keep a peaceful nuclear program and will give full assurances that it would not build nuclear weapons, Obama said.
 
"At this juncture I don't see a further extension being useful if they have not agreed to basic formulation and the bottom-line that the world requires," Obama said.
 
"We now know enough that the issues are no longer technical," he added. "The issues now are: Does Iran have the political will and the desire to get a deal done?"

Obama said U.S.-Israel relations must not become a partisan matter, as recent events may suggest. "The relations between Israel and the U.S. are not based on identifying Likud with the Republicans or Democrats with the Labor Party," he said.