No 'disrespect' meant to Obama: Netanyahu

Washington, March 3: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his speech to Congress scheduled for Tuesday is not meant to signal any "disrespect" for US President Barack Obama but he feels "a moral obligation" to warn lawmakers of the dangers of cutting a deal with Iran over its nuclear programme.

The White House and Netanyahu, however, appeared far apart on how to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.


Netanyahu's speech will coincide with a new round of talks in Geneva between Iran and six world powers led by the US.

In his speech on Tuesday, Netanyahu is expected to say that it was not enough.

"America is the strongest power in the world. Israel is strong, but it's much more vulnerable," he said on Monday at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), The Washington Post reported.

"American leaders worry about the security of their country. Israeli leaders worry about the survival of their country," he added.

Netanyahu arrived as feelings smoldered among liberal Democrats, some American Jewish groups and White House officials because of his decision to accept an invitation from House Speaker John A Boehner to address Congress without coordinating with or notifying the administration in advance.

"My speech is not intended to show any disrespect to President Obama or the esteemed office that he holds. I have great respect for both," Netanyahu said.

"Disagreements between allies are only natural," he added, brushing aside unusually open criticism between administration officials and the Israeli Prime Minister.

On Monday, Netanyahu defended his decision to accept Boehner's invitation but said he did not seek to inject partisanship into US-Israeli relations.

"Israel has always been a bipartisan issue," he said. "Israel should always remain a bipartisan issue."

He insisted that he wanted to warn that an international nuclear deal with Iran could "threaten the survival of Israel".

Netanyahu said he wanted to make his case before Congress, where there is bipartisan lgislation that would impose additional sanctions on Iran.

However, Obama, urged lawmakers to put aside such efforts while negotiations were in progress, adding that he would veto the bill.

Israel must not only defend itself militarily but also stand up for itself on the world stage, Netanyahu told AIPAC.

"We have a voice," he said. "Tomorrow, as Prime Minister of the one and only Jewish state, I plan to use that voice," he added.


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