Netanyahu: Campaign in Congress Against Iran Deal Didn't Harm Israel-U.S. Ties

After White House announces that Obama and Netanyahu will meet for first time in two years, PM responds to criticism: 'I think I know how to navigate Israel's diplomatic relations.'

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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Obama and Netanyahu during their meeting at the White House, September 30, 2013.
Obama and Netanyahu during their meeting at the White House, September 30, 2013.Credit: Bloomberg
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that the battle he waged in the United States Congress against the nuclear agreement with Iran had served Israel's interests and not harmed the country's relations with the U.S.

The prime minister's comment came after the announcement that he would be meeting with President Barack Obama in the White House in November.

"For months, I have heard from all sorts of commentators and analysts that our campaign against the Iranian nuclear agreement could lead to a division, to the collapse of our ties with the U.S.," Netanyahu said at a ceremony inaugurating the train line between Ashkelon and Be'er Sheva.

"It's clear that there was no such collapse in ties and that there could not be any such collapse," Netanyahu said. "I think all those experts should be a little more humble. I think I know how to navigate Israel's diplomatic relations and how to maintain our ties with the best of our friends, the Unites States."

He added that he had spoken with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday – for the second time in 10 days – and they had agreed to meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly opening at the end of this month.

"I have never understood why the sovereign state of Israel, which represents the Jewish people, cannot fight against a nuclear agreement with a country that announces its intention to destroy us," Netanyahu said.

"I think that it is not only my right but my duty to warn against such dangers," he stressed. "Doing so not only doesn't harm Israel, but it serves Israel, because all those in the U.S., apart from supporters of the agreement, now say 'Of course we need to oppose Iranian aggression; of course we need to strengthen Israel.' The same can be heard in the words of President Obama."

The White House announced on Wednesday that Obama will host Netanyahu in Washington on November 9, the first meeting between the two in about a year. It will be an opportunity to try to dispel the tension between the two stemming from their sharp disagreement over the nuclear agreement with Iran.

The White House said in its announcement that Obama was interested in discussing both the implementation of the Iran agreement – "which is intended to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons" – and measures to deal with Iranian efforts to destabilize the Middle East during his meeting with Netanyahu.

Also on Obama's agenda are Israel's relations with the Palestinians, the situation in Gaza and "the need for true progress towards a two-state solution."

"Netanyahu's visit is an example of the continuing ties between Israel and the U.S., including the unprecedented security cooperation and the upcoming discussions over how to further strengthen Israel's security," the White House said.

Netanyahu will probably arrive in Washington on November 8. During his visit, he is due to address the annual congress of the Jewish Federations of North America.

Prior to the meeting with Obama, Netanyahu will meet with Kerry in New York at the opening of the UN General Assembly. Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon will travel to Washington in October to meet with his counterpart Ashton Carter.

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