Praise, Criticism For Netanyahu’s Speech

March 3, 2015

Updated at 2:11 p.m. ET

The reaction to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech on Iran to a joint meeting of Congress is, so far, along partisan lines.

President Obama, speaking at the White House, said, “as far as I can tell, there was nothing new” in Netanyahu’s speech, adding, “the prime minister didn’t offer any viable alternatives” to the possible deal being worked out with Iran on its nuclear program.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she was “near tears” throughout the speech — “saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States as part of the P5 +1 nations, and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation.”

P5+1 refers to the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — and Germany. They are the nations negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program.

Netanyahu, who views views Iran as an existential threat to Israel, called a deal being negotiated with Iran “very bad.”

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a likely GOP presidential candidate in 2016, said he was “pleased to hear Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to Congress today, and join him in calling for peace and standing together for our mutual interests. It is important to work together to prevent a nuclear Iran, and the spread of Radical Islam.”

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, another potential GOP presidential candidate, said on Twitter that Netanyahu’s message was “powerful.”

“Glad he addressed Congress & detailed the dangers a nuclear Iran poses,” he said. “Their nuclear program must be stopped.”

About 50 Democrats skipped Netanyahu’s speech, including Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., who said the House Speaker John Boenher’s invitation to Netanyahu allowed “the floor of this chamber to be used to undercut the negotiations of the president of the United States.” He said the move was “partisan – and it’s not right.”

Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn,. said the speech was “harmful because, I think, the game is in Geneva — not in Washington and on television. It would have been better if he took his concerns directly to the president and the State Department, behind the scenes, and tried to get a better deal.”

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