LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A U.S. Congressman from Orange County and a prominent Southland rabbi were both on Capitol Hill Tuesday for a controversial speech from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the Iran nuclear talks.
Rep. Ed Royce (R- Fullerton) noted Netanyahu’s “passion and resolve” in confronting what the Prime Minister has described as a “existential” threat to the State of Israel, and urged his fellow House members to consider the stakes.
“How does an Iran with industrial scale enrichment capacity – key bomb-making technology – make the U.S. and Israel safer? How does an Iranian nuclear program, which will spur similar programs among neighboring rivals, make the Middle East less combustible?” Royce said in a statement.
Nearly 50 House Democrats – including Rep. Karen Bass (D-Cheviot Hills) and Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) – opted to skip Netanyahu’s speech.
Despite the absences of so many lawmakers, Royce hinted that Congress would play an instrumental role in any final agreement between the so-called “P5+1” nations – the U.S., China, Russia, the U.K., France, and Germany – in the ongoing talks with Iran.
Negotiators are aiming to come to an agreement before the end of March.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean of Los Angeles’ Simon Wiesenthal center, joined what was described as a “large contingent” of Jewish leaders from throughout the nation, including Nobel Prize winner and famed Nazi-hunter Elie Wiesel.
Heir said he supports Netanyahu’s assessment of any U.S.-Iranian nuclear deal.
“If we were dealing with a country willing to give up terrorism, that’s one thing,” Hier told City News Service. ” “The State of Israel thinks it’s a bad deal. The prime minister felt he had to come.”
Democrats had accused House Speaker John Boehner of showing disrespect by inviting the prime minister without first notifying President Barack Obama.
When asked about the tension created between the Israeli government and the Obama administration by the invitation extended by House Speaker John Boehner and Netanyahu’s acceptance of it, Hier expressed some misgivings.
“The issue could have been handled better,” he said.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi says she was so upset she was near tears during Netanyahu’s address, and said the prime minister’s speech was condescending to the Congress in the way he described the threat posed to the Jewish state.
Several other Democrats said he seemed to be lecturing Americans, and that the address was inappropriate coming only a few weeks before the Israeli elections.
The relationship between the two nations traditionally has been bipartisan.
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