The two Republicans in the state’s congressional delegation praised today’s speech before Congress by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with Sen. Kelly Ayotte saying it is important that Congress have the authority to approve or reject any nuclear deal the Obama administration makes with Iran.
Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said she did not agree with everything Netanyau said, while Rep. Ann Kuster said she “appreciated the opportunity” to hear the speech and said President Obama “must consult closely with Congress” on any potential nuclear deal with Iran.
All four members of the delegation attended the speech.
Netanyahu issued a stern warning that the nuclear deal being developed by the United States and Iran is a bad one, saying, “We’re better off without it.” And, he said that although Iran and ISIS are battling among themselves, “The enemy of your enemy is your enemy.”
Ayotte called his speech “powerful, persuasive, and correct. He articulately underscored the threat posed if Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, acquires the world’s most destructive weapon. If that happens, it would present a grave threat to both Israel and the United States.
“The agreement the Obama administration is pursuing is a bad deal that would allow Iran to continue its acts of regional terrorism and simply delay, and not dismantle, its nuclear weapons program,” Ayotte said. “What we need is a real, verifiable agreement that ends Iran’s nuclear weapons program. A good agreement would be a blessing, but a bad agreement would be a nightmare.”
Ayotte said that Congress “should have a say regarding any final agreement with Iran – including determining whether Iran’s actions warrant any sanctions relief.” She said she is cosponsoring legislation that would require congressional review of any comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran.
Shaheen said, “I appreciated the opportunity to hear Prime Minister Netanyahu’s thoughts on how we can address challenges across the Middle East. “I did not agree with everything that was said, however, and I remain disappointed by the political maneuvering surrounding his invitation to speak. But I also believe our friendship with Israel transcends politics. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I look forward to continuing to work with our Israeli partners toward our shared goals in the Middle East.”
Rep. Frank Guinta issued a more general statement, saying, “Israel is our strongest and most reliable ally in the Middle East; and, they deserve no less than the 100 percent backing of the United States of America. At a time when terrorism threatens the national security of the U.S., the stability of the Middle East, and the rest of world, it is imperative that the United States and Israel come together to protect the free world from terrorism. I stand with Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu.”
A Guinta spokesman said his comments were a general expression of support for Israel and Netanyahu but also said Guinta “supports imposing sanctions on Iran to ensure that they never obtain nuclear weapons capabilities.”
Kuster said in a statement, “While I had concerns with the process by which Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech was scheduled, Israel is one of our most important allies and the relationship between our two countries must always remain above partisan politics. I appreciated the opportunity to hear the Prime Minister’s speech, and I will continue to work together with both parties to safeguard Israel’s security. The President must consult closely with Congress on any potential nuclear agreement with Iran, and I look forward to partnering with my colleagues to ensure that the safety and best interests of both the United States and Israel are protected.”
View the Netanyahu speech below.