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Tipsheet

Netanyahu Arrives in U.S. Ahead of Controversial Address to Joint Session of Congress

As negotiations over a deal with Iran continue, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has arrived in the United States ahead of his address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night. 

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A senior Israeli official told reporters on Netanyahu's flight that Congress could be "the last brake" for stopping a nuclear deal with Iran.

Saying it was Israel's impression that members of Congress "do not necessarily know the details of the deal coming together, which we do not see as a good deal," the official said Netanyahu in his speech would give a detailed explanation of his objections to an Iran deal.

House Speaker John Boehner extended the speaking invitation to Netanyahu earlier this year without consulting the White House, prompting boycotts of his speech by the Congressional Black Caucus and a number of liberal Democrats. Last week former ambassador to the United Nations and current White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice claimed publicly that Netanyahu's speech, which is expected to be focused on the threat of a nuclear Iran, will be "destructive to the fabric" of the U.S.-Israeli relationship. 

During his visit, Netanyahu will not be hosted by President Obama at the White House and has turned down an invitation to meet with Senate Democrats. Vice President Joe Biden will not attend the speech and Secretary of State John Kerry will be in Geneva for meetings. 

Meanwhile, Speaker Boehner continues to stand by his decision to invite Netanyahu and said yesterday on CBS' Face the Nation that tickets to the speech are in high demand. 

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“The demand for seats in the House, the demand for tickets – I’ve never seen anything like it. Everybody wants to be there. What I do wonder, is why the White House feels threatened because the Congress wants to support Israel, and wants to hear what a trusted ally has to say? And it’s been frankly remarkable to me the extent to which, over the last five or six weeks, the White House has attacked the Prime Minister, attacked me, for wanting to hear from one of our closes allies," Boehner said. "The threat coming from Iran and the Iranians having a nuclear weapon is a threat to the region, it’s a threat to the United States, and it’s a threat to the rest of the world. This is a serious issue and we’re not going to resolve this issue by sticking our heads in the sand. The prime minister can talk about this threat, I believe, better than anyone. And the United States Congress wants to hear from him, and so do the American people.”

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