20 May 2024
Sunday 1 March 2015 - 11:29
Story Code : 153497

Netanyahu takes Iran campaign to Jerusalem holy site

Netanyahu takes Iran campaign to Jerusalem holy site
[caption id="attachment_153498" align="alignright" width="162"]Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands next to the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, during a visit in Jerusalem's Old City February 28, 2015. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands next to the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, during a visit in Jerusalem's Old City February 28, 2015.[/caption]

(Reuters) - Israeli Prime Benjamin Netanyahu took his campaign against a nuclear deal withIranto Jerusalem's sacred Western Wall on Saturday, on the eve of his departure to Washington to address Congress on the issue.

His rare pilgrimage to one of Judaism's holiest sites was highly symbolic -- and political -- an apparent attempt by Netanyahu, two weeks before a national election, to portray a U.S. visit, that has brought relations with Washington to a new low, as crucial to Israel's survival.

Using the perimeter wall of the destroyed Biblical Jewish temple as a backdrop and wearing a black skullcap, he said: "The agreement being formed betweenIranand the powers, can endanger our existence.

"In the face of such an agreement we must unite and explain the dangers it poses toIsrael, to the region and to the entire world."

Netanyahu has come under almost unprecedented criticism from the U.S. administration and inIsraelfor his planned speech to Congress on Tuesday, as international talks with Iranare under way to secure a deal on Teheran's nuclear program.

Washington hopes a deal withIranwill ensure the Islamic Republic is unable to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran denies it has any nuclear arms program and often points out that Israelis apparently the only country in the region with such weapons.

On Wednesday U.S. officials questioned Netanyahu's judgment and said his outspoken condemnation of efforts to reach an Iranian deal had injected destructive partisanship into U.S.-Israeli ties.

"I respect U.S. PresidentBarackObama," Netanyahu said at the Western Wall where earlier he placed his palms on the stones in whose crevices faithful place written messages to God.

"I believe in the strength of Israel's relations with the U.S. and through them we shall overcome these differences, as well as those to come," he said.

Republicans who control Congress invited Netanyahu without consulting Obama or other leading Democrats. The president said he would not meet Netanyahu because of the visit's proximity to the Israeli election.

By Reuters
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