Netanyahu: Israel and America are Family

PM tells AIPAC states have 'family disagreements' but share values and goal of stopping Iranian nuke.

Uzi Baruch, Washington,

Binyamin Netanyahu at AIPAC
Binyamin Netanyahu at AIPAC
Reuters

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke at the AIPAC conference on Monday, where he warned against Iran's nuclear ambitions and the threat they pose to the free world - and dismissed talks of a rift in relations between Israel and the US.

"You're here to tell the world that reports of the demise of the Israeli and American ties are not only premature, they're just wrong," said Netanyahu. "You're here to tell the world that our alliance is stronger than ever. And because of you... it's going to get even stronger in the coming years."

Netanyahu started out thanking Milos Zeman, president of the Czech Republic, for his support of Israel and his nation's historical support of the Jewish state. Likewise he thanked Canadian officials, including outgoing Foreign Minister John Baird, for being "champions of Israel."

"My friends I bring greetings to you from Jerusalem, our eternal undivided capital. I also bring to you news that you may not have heard. You see I'll be speaking in Congress tomorrow," quipped Netanyahu to thunderous applause.

Addressing the controversy surrounding the upcoming speech, he said "I'm not going to speak today about the content of that speech. But I want to say a few words about the purpose of that speech.

"My speech is not meant to show any disrespect for President (Barack) Obama or for the office that he holds, I have great respect for both."

He further insisted that his speech is not meant to create a partisan divide on Israel support, calling for the issue to remain bi-partisan.

Shifting to the focus of his Congress speech, he noted Iran is the foremost sponsor of terrorism worldwide, dispatching and training terrorists on five continents.

"This is what Iran is doing now without nuclear weapons. Imagine what Iran will do with nuclear weapons," he warned, adding Iran aims to destroy Israel and is developing the nuclear capabilities to do so.

"For 2,000 years my people, the Jewish people, were stateless, voiceless... we suffered relentless persecution and horrific attacks...and we could not defend ourselves. Well, no more! The days when the Jewish people are passive in the face of threats to annihilate us, those days are over!" emphasized the prime minister.

Netanyahu continued that Israel's joint work with the US is meant to "defend our common civilization against common threats."

Alliances worldwide are not made with weak nations, Netanyahu continued, vowing that the state of Israel will be strong and defend itself, and that as prime minister of the Jewish state he will speak out against the threat of Iran.

"We disagree on the best way to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons," said Netanyahu, noting there is a difference in terms of policy but not goals. Pointing out the greater threats posed to Israel based on its size, geographical position and relative strength, he made an argument for Israel's urgent concern to take stricter actions on Iran.

Going over the various wars Israel has fought for its survival Netanyahu pointed out that the US has criticized and opposed Israel's actions at various critical junctures, even opposing declaring the establishment of the state of Israel.

"Despite occasional disagreements the friendship between America and Israel grew stronger and stronger decade after decade, and our friendship will weather the current disagreement as well to grow even stronger in the future," said Netanyahu. "And I'll tell you why, because we share the same dreams. Because we pray hope and aspire for a better world."

Those ties are based on "values like liberty, equality, justice, tolerance, compassion. as our region descends into medieval barbarism Israel is the one that maintains these values common to us and to you," he said.

Israel and America "are family ...Disagreements in the family are always uncomfortable, but we must remember we are family."

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