Susan Rice: Netanyahu's Congress Speech Destructive to Israel-U.S. Ties

Obama's national security adviser says ties between Israel, U.S. have been marred by partisanship in recent weeks.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice.
U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice.Credit: AP
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Tensions between Israel and the U.S. continue to rise over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming Congress address. President Barack Obama's national security adviser Susan Rice said Tuesday that the Israeli premier's March 3 speech is "destructive" to the relationship between the two countries.

Rice made the comments in an interview with Charlie Rose on PBS. The remarks came hours after Secretary of State John Kerry slammed Netanyahu over his opposition to the unfolding nuclear deal with Iran.

"The relationship between the U.S. and Israel has always been bipartisan and we have been fortunate that the politics have not been injected into this relationship," Rice said.

"What has happened over the last several weeks by virtue of the invitation that was issued by the speaker and the acceptance of it by Prime Minister Netanyahu two weeks before his elections is that on both sides there have been injected some degree of partisanship.

"It is not only unfortunate but it is also destructive of the fabric of the relationship. It has always been bipartisan and we want to keep it that way. When it becomes injected with politics that's a problem. We want the relationship to be strong regardless of which party may be in charge in each country."

Speaking at a congressional hearing on the U.S. State Department budget earlier Tuesday, Kerry slammed Netanyahu as well. The secretary of state said that "anybody running around right now jumping in to say, 'Well we don't like the deal,' or this or that, doesn't know what the deal is." Kerry added, "there is no deal yet, and I caution people to wait and see what these negotiations produce."

Kerry's criticism came shortly after Netanyahu again attacked the deal with Iran.

"Unfortunately, the information that I have received over the last few days confirms many of our fears about the developing agreement between the powers and Iran," Netanyahu said. "This agreement, if signed, will allow Iran to become a nuclear threshold state," he added. "Meaning, with the powers' consent, Iran will get a license to develop bombs – and this is a country which openly declares its intention to destroy the state of Israel."

Netanyahu added that the agreement being discussed is a bad deal that puts Israel in danger, and stressed that he intends to do everything possible to prevent its signing. "That is why I will go to Washington to speak before the U.S. Congress, because the U.S. Congress may be the last defense before an agreement between the powers and Iran," he said.

Also on Tuesday, Netanyahu declined an invitation to meet with U.S. Senate Democrats during his trip to Washington next week.

"Though I greatly appreciate your kind invitation to meet with Democratic Senators, I believe that doing so at this time could compound the misperception of partisanship regarding my upcoming visit," Netanyahu wrote in a letter to Senators Richard Durbin and Dianne Feinstein obtained by Reuters.

Durbin and Feinstein had invited Netanyahu to a closed-door meeting with Democratic senators in a letter on Monday, amid tensions over his planned Congress address.

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