Speaking to Sen. Robert Menendez during Menendez’s visit to Israel earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked the Foreign Relations Committee chair for helping to secure last week’s unanimous Senate vote calling for the U.S. to support Israel if Israel needs to act in self-defense against the Iranian nuclear program.. In welcoming the senator to Israel, Netanyahu discussed the shared threat that the West and Israel face from a nuclear Iran:
” And we know that you stand with us, as do the American people and the American Government, the American congress, against the greatest security threat of our time, which is Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons. I think it’s the greatest security threat to the United States, to the free world and to international peace. And these are our two goals: security and peace… The one thing that unites all Israelis: the support and friendship of the United States. It’s very strong because of people like you. Thank you.”
For his part Menendez emphasized the bipartisan consensus regarding Israel’s critical role in helping to promote American national security:
“For twenty years, as a member of the House of Representatives and the Senate and now as the Chairman of the Center Foreign Relations Committee, I’ve always asked two questions in terms of the US foreign policy abroad: What is in the national interest of the United States? What is in the national security interest of the United States? And the answer to those questions, for myself, I’ve always dictated my views, my advocacy and my votes… And for 20 years I’ve answered that question as it relates to the Middle East that it’s in the national interest and the national security of the United States to have a strong, unwavering relationship with the State of Israel – a true democracy in a very tough part of the world; a major security ally of the United States; a major trade partner of the United States; and a country most likely to be voting in common cause with us in international parts. I haven’t changed those views as the Chairman of the Center Foreign Relations Committee. I continue to hold them, and I do agree with you that Iran is a major challenge. It’s why I’ve led three different set of sanctions laws successfully, and the one thing about the Congress we may have very significant differences but the one thing that unites the American Congress is our relationship with Israel and we look forward to continuing that.”
Menendez’s point echoes one made by Vice President Joe Biden in March. Biden described Israel’s security as in the “naked self-interest” of the United States. Analysts are increasingly converging on the conclusion that the collapse of the U.S.’s once-stable Arab allies in the Middle East makes the U.S.-Israel relationship more critical than ever for U.S. efforts to project power and enhance security in the region.
[Photo: Office of Senator Menendez]