Netanyahu’s speech on Iran must not turn into ‘political football’, says Kerry


Even as ties between Jerusalem and the White House seemed to worsen over Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu’s impending speech to the US Congress, US Secretary of State John Kerry sought to placate the situation, saying that the Israeli Premier was welcome to speak in the US.

Kerry, who is in Switzerland for talks with Iran’s foreign minister, however added that the Obama administration did not want Netanyahu’s speech to turn into some “great political football”.

“We are going to test whether or not diplomacy can prevent this weapon from being created, so you don’t have to turn to additional measures including the possibility of a military confrontation,” Kerry told ABC television’s “This Week.”

“Our hope is that diplomacy can work. And I believe, given our success of the interim agreement, we deserve the benefit of the doubt to find out whether or not we can get a similarly good agreement with respect to the future.”

Kerry’s remarks come as Netanyahu has arrived in the US to speak about the dangers of an emerging Iran nuke deal.

Ahead of embarking on his US trip to make an anti-Iran congressional speech, Netanyahu tweeted that he was leaving on a historic mission adding that he was “strongly opposed to the agreement being formulated between the world powers and Iran that could endanger Israel’s very existence”.

Netanyahu will press his opposition to a diplomatic accommodation of Iran’s nuclear program in his speech Tuesday to Congress.

“We are not here to offend President Obama whom we respect very much,” said a Netanyahu adviser, who was not authorized to be identified. “The prime minister is here to warn, in front of any stage possible, the dangers” of the agreement that may be taking shape.

Netanyahu was invited to speak by US House Speaker John Boehner, who did not tell the White House in advance that he would ask the prime minister to speak.

The invitation to speak to Congress extended by House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, and Netanyahu’s acceptance have caused an uproar that has exposed tensions between Israel and the US, its most important ally.

Democrats have howled that the invitation was a breach of protocol, that the timing was inappropriate ahead of March 17 Israeli elections and that it injected partisanship into the relationship between Israel and the US.