Netanyahu Meets with Congressional Leaders, Focuses on Countering Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized the threat of a rising Iran during a series of meetings with congressional leadership on Wednesday.

Netanyahu met one-on-one with Congress’ top legislators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (D-Calif.), and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).

Though specific reports of these closed-door meetings were mostly not made public, Netanyahu’s office released a statement saying that “the prime minister discussed the issues of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and the Palestinians.”

Netanyahu’s meeting with Ryan had more details publicized. “Prime Minister Netanyahu and I redoubled our commitment to strengthening the historic alliance between the United States and Israel,” Ryan said in a statement. “We discussed the need to hold Iran accountable for its actions, bolster Israel’s qualitative military edge, and push back against international efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state. The special relationship between our nations has been an anchor of stability during uncertain and dangerous times. It must remain a cornerstone of American leadership today. I want to thank Prime Minister Netanyahu for his unwavering friendship and support.”

In his joint press conference with President Donald Trump on Wednesday, the two heads of government emphasized their countries’ joint efforts to counter Iranian aggression.

“The security challenges faced by Israel are enormous, including the threat of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, which I’ve talked a lot about,” Trump said. “One of the worst deals I’ve ever seen is the Iran deal. My administration has already imposed new sanctions on Iran, and I will do more to prevent Iran from ever developing—I mean ever—a nuclear weapon.”

Trump also offered praise for the U.S.-Israel alliance, for which Netanyahu thanked him:

As you have said, our alliance is based on a deep bond of common values and common interests. And, increasingly, those values and interests are under attack by one malevolent force: radical Islamic terror. Mr. President, you’ve shown great clarity and courage in confronting this challenge head-on. You call for confronting Iran’s terrorist regime, preventing Iran from realizing this terrible deal into a nuclear arsenal. And you have said that the United States is committed to preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons. You call for the defeat of ISIS. Under your leadership, I believe we can reverse the rising tide of radical Islam. And in this great task, as in so many others, Israel stands with you and I stand with you.

Netanyahu also met with Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday morning. The two pledged to “work together in a systematic manner” to combat anti-Israel bias at the United Nations, a member of Netanyahu’s delegation told the Times of Israel.

[Photo: Prime Minister of Israel / Facebook ]