WASHINGTON — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received numerous standing ovations and booming cheers from both sides of the aisle when he addressed a joint meeting of Congress Tuesday. Netanyahu’s remarks focused on the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran.
A deal with Iran, the prime minister said, will permit the country to keep its large nuclear infrastructure of thousands of spinning centrifuges intact. This will enable Iran to get to the bomb in a short period of time, he said.
“All the nuclear restrictions on Iran will expire in about a decade. Now a decade may seem like a long time in a political life, but it’s a blink of an eye in the life of a nation.”
Netanyahu warned members of Congress that when it comes to nuclear talks, no deal with Iran is better than a “bad deal.”
“If Iran threatens to walk away from the table … call their bluff,” he said. “They’ll be back, because they need the deal a lot more than you do.”
He explained, “No deal is better than a bad deal. Well this is a bad deal. It is a very bad deal. We’re better off without it. Now we’re being told that the only alternative to a bad deal is war. That’s just not true. The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal.”
Netanyahu also pointed out that Iran’s opposition to the terror organization ISIS is no excuse for the United States to feel any alliance toward Iran, saying that both are “competing for” supremacy among radical Islamist groups.
“In this deadly game of thrones, there’s no room for America or Israel — no peace for Christians, Jews, for Muslims.” He later said, “So when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.”
Saying the Iranian regime plays a good game of “hide and cheat,” Netanyahu explained how easily the country deceives UN inspectors and should not be taken seriously at their word.
“If Iran changes its behavior, the restrictions would be lifted. If Iran doesn’t change its behavior, the restrictions should not be lifted. If Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal country.”
Netanyahu finished his speech saying that if Israel is forced to fight Iran alone, his nation is willing.
“This is why — this is why, as a prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand. But I know that Israel does not stand alone. I know that America stands with Israel.”
The prime minister’s well-received speech came after President Barack Obama told Reuters that a long-term nuclear deal with Iran was the optimal way to make sure Iran does not get a nuclear weapon. National Security Advisor Susan Rice said on Monday night that Netanyahu’s speech “injected a degree of partisanship” that is “destructive to the fabric of the relationship.”
Although a number of Democrats boycotted Tuesday’s speech by Netanyahu over House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to the prime minister, the lower chamber was packed to full capacity both on the floor and in the galleries.