Prime Minister To Speak About The Threat A Nuclear Iran Would Pose To Israel, World

NEW YORK (CBNewYork/AP)Sen. Charles Schumer says he’ll be among those attending Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress on Tuesday.

There has been heated disagreement among lawmakers over whether to boycott the speech.

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Critics have charged that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, ignored protocol by inviting Netanyahu without first consulting President Barack Obama and that the speech opens the Capitol up to Israeli politics. The address also comes as the Obama administration and Iran are negotiating the future of the Iranian nuclear program.

Speaking Monday at a Gracie Mansion breakfast with Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City’s congressional delegation, Schumer noted that while he would not boycott, he did not like the way Boehner handled inviting Netanyahu.

Schumer said two issues transcend how the speech was set up.

“One is the American-Israeli relationship, and I am going to show it is strong and vital to both countries,” he told reporters, including WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb. “Both countries are in the lead in the fight against terrorism.

“And the second is preventing a nuclear Iran, which would be a catastrophe. I want to hear what the prime minister says,” he added.

Of the half-dozen Democratic House members at Gracie Mansion, four declared they would attend the speech while objecting to the invitation without White House consultation, and one said she had not decided.

Rep. Charles Rangel said he would not attend, citing House rules.

“I am not boycotting this speech,” Rangel said. “I am just not going to the speech.

“I think that for me to attend this would be violating the rules of the House of Representatives. Yes, the speaker invited on behalf of the House, but half of the House are Democrats — that is, in terms of being partners in the legislative body — and there was no one on the Democratic side that was a part of that invitation.”

Rangel added that he was disappointed that House Republicans were making Israel into a partisan issue.

De Blasio added that he thought Boehner “made a huge mistake” by inviting the Israeli prime minister.

“You don’t politicize the platform of the House of Representatives in the context of another nation’s election,” he said.

Even some Democrats who are going sounded unhappy.

“I intend to attend the speech. I’m very disturbed by how it was brought about, what the speaker of the House did,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who represents Manhattan, told Kramer.

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Brooklyn Congressman Hakeem Jeffries said he only recently made up his mind to go.

“I will attend the speech. I look forward to hearing what the prime minister has to say,” Jeffries said.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu insisted Monday that despite recent differences with the Obama administration over the looming nuclear deal with Iran the alliance between his country and the Unites States was “stronger than ever.”

Netanyahu told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington that “reports of the demise of the Israeli-U.S. relationship are not just premature, they are just wrong.”

Because his congressional speech was not coordinated with the White House, Netanyahu’s already tense relationship with President Obama reached a new low and included some of the harshest attacks against him to date.

The Israeli leader is deeply suspicious of Obama’s efforts to reach a nuclear agreement with Iran, fearing the U.S. and its negotiating partners are prepared to leave Tehran on the cusp of developing a nuclear weapon.

There were some reports stating Netanyahu intends to disclose some negotiating points from the nuclear talks, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported.

“I want to state clearly that doing so would make it more difficult to reach the goal that Israel and others say they share in order to get a good deal,” Secretary of State John Kerry said.

Netanyahu stressed he would speak clearly before Congress about the threat a nuclear Iran would pose to Israel and the world.

“First, let me clarify what is not the purpose of that speech. 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,” he said, receiving a standing ovation from more than 15.000 pro-Israel supporters.

Noting Israel’s proximity to Iran, Netanyahu said his country’s situation was more dire than that of the United States.

“No more the days when the Jewish people are passive in the face of threats to annihilate us. Those days are over,” Netanyahu said. “American leaders worry about the security of their country; Israeli leaders worry about the survival of their country.”

Showing a graphic he said depicted Iran’s training, arming and dispatching of terrorists on five continents, Netanyahu said their “tentacles of terror” reached across the world.

“This is what Iran is doing now — without nuclear weapons. Imagine what Iran would do with nuclear weapons. And this same Iran vows to annihilate Israel. If it develops nuclear weapons, it would have the means to achieve that goal,” he said. “And as prime minister of Israel, I have a moral obligation to speak up in the face of these dangers while there is still time to avert them.”

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