Israeli prime minister delivers controversial speech to U.S. Congress

LUIZ BRASIL

AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner

AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner

Anti-Iran speech draws heavy criticism as U.S. gets closer to a deal with Iran

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent speech to the U.S. Congress has been widely criticized as fear mongering and counterproductive. Netanyahu warned that Iran is closer than ever to achieving a nuclear weapon, a claim he has also made in 1992, 1995, 2002, 2009 and 2012.

Negotiations are currently underway between Iran and several world powers over Iran’s intentions to acquire nuclear materials for power plants.

Israel fears that this would be the first step in jump-starting a nuclear weapons program and has staunchly positioned itself against the deal.

“We’ve been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well this is a bad deal, a very bad deal,” said Netanyahu to very loud applause.

In President Barack Obama’s response to Netanyahu’s speech, he says that the Israeli prime minister failed to offer any “viable alternatives” to the current nuclear negotiations with Iran and that “there was nothing new” in what he had to say.

The president said Netanyahu made the same speech before when congress reached an interim deal with Iran that resulted in the program being rolled backed and guarantee’s it was only for civilian purposes.

Obama said that taking Netanyahu’s approach of no negotiations at all would only cause Iran to redouble their efforts in acquiring a nuclear weapon.

The Israeli Prime Minister’s speech to congress comes just two weeks before elections in his own country, where he will be seeking a second term.

The speech was positioned to air around the same time Israeli families would be sitting down for dinner, and many have speculated that it was a political show to strengthen his polling numbers.

Netanyahu is considered in Israel, even by many of his critics, as the person who can best protect Israel from its many threats in the Middle East, whether Iran, Hezbollah or jihadis in Syria. Much of Netanyahu’s campaign thus far has been focused on drawing attention to security issues instead of other problems, such as ensuring Israel remains an affordable place to live.

“Netanyahu is a political genius, mostly in terms of everything that is related to his personal survival,” wrote Ben Caspit, who is often critical of the prime minister, in the Israeli daily newspaper Ma’ariv.
Netanyahu “went to speak to Congress, ignoring the warnings, publicly hazed the president and burned the last bridges that remained between himself and the White House,” said Caspit.

Meir Dagan, former chief of Israel’s spy agency Mossad, has attacked several of the claims made by the Israeli prime minister in his speech to congress about Iran’s nuclear program.

“The time is longer than what he describes,” Dagan said in reaction to the prime minister’s claims that Iran will be able to create a nuclear weapon in a year or less.

Dagan also attacked Netanyahu’s claim that Iran’s missile program would allow it to deliver a nuclear attack to “every part of the United States”.

“The missiles cannot reach the U.S.” said Dagan, who continued to say that the prime minister knew this to be true as he spoke. Dagan has always been fiercely critical of Netanyahu and his approach to Iran.

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