Israel’s Netanyahu Addresses Iran Nuclear Threat in Highly Anticipated Congress Speech (VIDEO)
Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu delivered a highly anticipated and controversial address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday on the subject of the Iranian nuclear threat and the Obama Administration’s deal-making with the Islamic Republic.
In the lead-up, critics of the speech faulted the appearance of partisan politics in the exclusion of the White House from the decision to invite Netanyahu, and accused the Israeli premier of electioneering ahead of the Jewish State’s upcoming general election.
In an interview with Reuters on Monday President Obama criticized Netanyahu’s judgement in an effort to preempt his remarks to Congress.
Netanyahu’s supporters maintain that he had no choice but to address the emerging deal between Iran and world powers which will leave Israel existentially vulnerable.
As of Tuesday morning, 9 senators had announced that they would skip the speech, as did dozens of congressmen. The speech was widely reported to be the hottest ticket in Washington and Netanyahu addressed a full house.
Watch a video of the speech below and scroll down for the live updates (now concluded):
11:50 am – Netanyahu concludes “may Israel and America always stand together strong and resolute.”
11:44 am – Netanyahu refers to Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, who is in attendance at the speech, “Elie, your life and work inspire us to give meaning to the words ‘never again.'”
“I wish I can promise you that the lessons of history have been learned,” Netanyahu says. “But I can guarantee you this, that the days when the Jewish people remain passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over.”
“Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.”
11:41 am – Netanyahu dismisses the idea that Iran’s nuclear progress can’t be prevented. If they walk away from the table, he says, “call their bluff, they’ll be back, because they need the deal a lot more than you do.”
11:37 am – “Before lifting those restrictions, the world should demand that Iran do three things. First, stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East. Second, stop supporting terrorism around the world, and third, stop threatening to annihilate my country Israel, the one and only Jewish state,” Netanyahu says.
11:36 am – “This deal won’t be a farewell to arms, it will be a farewell to arms control,” Netanyahu says. “We don’t have to gamble with our future and our children’s future.”
11:35 am – “It doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb, it paves its path to the bomb, so why would anyone make this deal?” Netanyahu asks.
11:32 am – Netanyahu argues that Iran could make the fuel for a major nuclear arsenal if the deal under discussion is enacted.
11:31 am – “Right now Iran could be hiding nuclear facilities that we don’t know about,” Netanyahu says. “Iran has proven time and again that it cannot be trusted.”
11:29 am – Netanyahu now addresses the specifics of the Iran deal. Pointing to widespread media reports on the details of the deal, he says that the deal would allow Iran to develop “lots” of nuclear weapons.
11:27 am – “To defeat ISIS but let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle but lose the war, we can’t let that happen,” Netanyahu says.
11:25 am – “Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam,” says Netanyahu. “When it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.”
11:23 am – Netanyahu lists Iranian terror activity around the world. “We must all stand together to stop Iran’s march of conquest, subjugation and terror,” he says to raucous applause.
11:22 am – Netanyahu contrasts America’s founding document to the founding credo of the Islamic Republic.
11:20 am – “Iran’s regime poses a grave threat, not only to Israel, but to the peace of the entire world,” Netanyahu says.
11:18 am – “In our nearly 4000 years of history, many have tried repeatedly to destroy the Jewish people,” Netanyahu says, referring to the story of Purim and the “powerful Persian viceroy” that wished to destroy the Jewish people.
11:16 am – Netanyahu thanks President Obama and lists instances when the President has come to Israel’s aid. “I will always be grateful for that support,” he says.
11:15 am – Netanyahu says: “Israel is grateful for the support of the American people and America’s presidents from Harry Truman to Barack Obama.”
11:13 am – “I want to thank you, Democrats and Republicans for your common support for Israel, year after year, decade after decade,” Netanyahu says.
11:10 am – Netanyahu is working his way to the podium slowly and deliberately, taking time to greet lawmakers and wave to the gathered attendees. The cheers and applause have continued unabated for two straight minutes.
11:08 am – Extended applause, cheers and a standing ovation greet Netanyahu as he enters the chamber.
11:05 am – Advocacy group The Israel Project, in an email to reporters, points to an editorial by Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabiya English Faisal J. Abbas who is extremely supportive of Netanayhu on Iran. In the article, entitled President Obama, listen to Netanyahu on Iran, Abbas writes:
The Israeli PM managed to hit the nail right on the head when he said that Middle Eastern countries are collapsing and that “terror organizations, mostly backed by Iran, are filling in the vacuum” during a recent ceremony held in Tel Aviv to thank outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz for his role during “challenging” times.
In just a few words, Mr. Netanyahu managed to accurately summarize a clear and present danger, not just to Israel (which obviously is his concern), but to other U.S. allies in the region.
11:00 am – Netanyahu is about to enter the House chamber.
10:45 am – Two Democrats, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver and Rep. Charlie Rangel have reversed their decisions to boycott Netanyahu’s speech.