Netanyahu's Speech at Congress to Target Obama on Iran Nuclear Deal; Obama to Make Iran Deal Without Congressional Approval?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listens as U.S. President Barack Obama (R) speaks, during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, October 1, 2014. |

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is seeking a fourth term in election scheduled for March 17, will address U.S. Congress Tuesday, and he is expected to call on President Obama, with whom he already has strained relations, to halt Washington's emerging nuclear deal with Iran.

Netanyahu, who is known as an admirer of former British premier Winston Churchill, is visiting the United States on the invitation of Republican House Speaker John Boehner, and the Obama administration reportedly had no knowledge about it. He will address a joint meeting of Congress Tuesday.

"No matter how Churchillian Netanyahu may be when he speaks, no matter how powerful his words, he misunderstands the dynamics in Washington," Bloomberg quoted Gil Troy, an American-Israeli historian and commentator, as saying. "With each added insult, we're going from the usual spat to a really serious and game-changing challenge."

However, Obama's critics say that the negotiation process with Iran has actually diverted, from the original aim of removing Iran's potential to make nuclear weapons, to tolerating and only temporarily restricting Tehran's nuke capability.

Named the "Joint Plan of Action," the deal requires Iran to freeze its nuclear program for six months even as negotiators continue to push for a longer-term agreement. In return, Iran will be provided with up to $7 billion in relief from international sanctions for the duration of the interim agreement.

The Obama administration has hinted that it would go for a deal with Iran without a congressional vote.

In this month's election in Israel, Netanyahu faces a strong challenger, Isaac Herzog, leader of the Labor Party, who has blasted him for endangering relations with the United States.

Israel's Central Elections Commission has required that Netanyahu's speech be broadcast domestically with a five-minute delay so that any overtly partisan statements can be removed.

"What is destructive in my view is making a bad deal that paves the way for a nuclear Iran," Boehner earlier said. "That's destructive and that's why it's so important for the American people to hear what Prime Minister Netanyahu has to say about the grave threats that we are facing."

Netanyahu's critics say the speech is a big mistake. "He is a grumpy, old man. He's like a Republican senator from West Jerusalem. He talks like them, he dresses like them. He is always saying, 'They're against me! They don't like me!' He's dealing with an America he doesn't know," Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York and former Netanyahu adviser, told The Washington Post.

The deal has "not made the world a safer place," Netanyahu said earlier. "Like the agreement with North Korea in 2005, this agreement has made the world a much more dangerous place."

The agreement does not restrict Iran from retaining most of its nuclear infrastructure, and can therefore potentially develop a nuclear device.

"For years the international community has demanded that Iran cease all uranium enrichment," the Israeli leader added. "Now, for the first time, the international community has formally consented that Iran continue its enrichment of uranium."

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