Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has faced criticism in his own country and in the United States for agreeing to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress in March, but former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani says Netanyahu owes it to Israel to talk about the threat of a nuclear Iran.
"If I were him, I would make the speech," Giuliani told The Jerusalem Post
. The former mayor is in Israel to speak at a business conference.
Republican House Majority Leader John Boehner invited Netanyahu to address Congress one day after President Barack Obama's State of the Union address in which the president posed several tax initiatives that had no chance of passing a GOP-majority Congress.
The White House was angered by what it called a breach of protocol in not conferring with the Obama administration before issuing the invitation, and President Barack Obama has said he will not meet with Netanyahu during the visit in March. Obama and Netanyahu have never had warm relations.
The Israeli prime minister is facing flak back home
as well, as opposition leaders slammed the fact that the speech will come just days before Netanyahu faces re-election.
The subject of the scheduled talk will be a nuclear Iran, which Netanyahu says poses an existential risk to his country. Iran has threatened to wipe Israel off them map.
Congress is set to debate added sanctions against Iran, but the White House argues new sanctions could set back negotiations it is leading to get Iran to drop its nuclear ambitions. Republicans say Iran is stalling the talks while it pushes ahead with its nuclear efforts.
Giuliani met with Netanyahu during his current trip and said the prime minister "is laser focused on Iran as a danger to his country, the region and the world." The former mayor said the controversy about the speech as been "blown way out of proportion."
Giuliani said now is the perfect time for Netanyahu to address Congress because Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain has been holding hearings getting input on the issue from former generals and secretaries of state.
"We should hear the views of probably the person and country most affected by whatever we do about Iran," Guiliani said.
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