The US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, has moved to calm Israeli nerves about ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran insisting that Washington will never allow it to acquire a nuclear weapon.
The remarks came amidst unusual tensions between Israel and the United States over the issue with the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, preparing to deliver a highly controversial speech to the US Congress tomorrow when he is expected once more to criticise the push for a diplomatic deal with Iran.
In a preview of his address to Congress, Mr Netanyahu said that the very existence of his country is at stake where Iran’s nuclear ambitions are concerned and that he is impelled to speak up. But he also sought to dispel the impression of a US-Israel partnership in peril.
Unrest in Jerusalem
Unrest in Jerusalem
A masked Palestinian celebrates the attack on the Jerusalem synagogue holding a poster of the attackers,Ghassan and Uday Abu Jamal, during a rally in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip
A masked Palestinian youth wearing a Hamas headband uses a sling-shot to throw back a tear gas canister towards Israeli forces during clashes outside the Israeli-run Ofer military prison following the deadly attack on a Jerusalem synagogue
Masked Palestinians hold axes and a gun as they celebrate with others an attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip
Israeli Zaka emergency services volunteers carry the body of one of the two Palestinian assailants who were shot dead while attacking worshippers at a synagogue to an ambulance in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood in Jerusalem
An Ultra-orthodox jewish man prays at the scene of an attack, by two Palestinians, on a synagogue in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood in Jerusalem
An Israeli woman cries on a veranda next to a synagogue where a suspected Palestinian attack took place in Jerusalem
An Israeli police officer gestures as he holds a weapon near the scene of an attack at a Jerusalem synagogue
Israeli Zaka emergency services volunteers carry the body of an assailant who was shot dead while attacking a synagogue
Israeli emergency services personnel clean the sidewalk at the scene of an attack, by two Palestinians, on Israeli worshippers at a synagogue in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood in Jerusalem
Israeli security personnel run next to the synagogue in Har Nof, where a suspected Palestinian attack took place
A Palestinian activist knocks a hole through the wall near East Jerusalem
A masked Palestinian youth burns a tire near Israel's controversial barrier that separates the West Bank town of Abu Dis from Jerusalem
A Palestinian protester throws a stone at Israeli troops during clashes in the West Bank town of Abu Dis near Jerusalem
Palestinian mourners attend the funeral of bus driver Yusuf Hasan al-Ramuni in the West Bank town of Abu Dis from Jerusalem . A Palestinian bus driver was found hanged in his vehicle in Jerusalem, sparking clashes, after what Israel said was an apparent suicide but a colleague said looked like murder
A Palestinian protester tries to hammer a hole through Israel's controversial barrier that separates the West Bank town of Abu Dis from Jerusalem
Palestinian protesters climb a ladder at Israel's controversial barrier that separates the West Bank town of Abu Dis from Jerusalem
Israeli border policeman arrested over shooting of Palestinian boy during West Bank protests
Masked Palestinian youths clash with Israeli security forces in the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Abu Tor
Israeli fire fighters inspect the scene of an attack in Jerusalem. A Palestinian man rammed his car into a crowded train platform in east Jerusalem and then attacked people with an iron bar, killing one person and injuring 13 in what authorities called a terror attack before he was shot dead by the police. The militant Islamic group Hamas took responsibility for the attack
Israeli police officers walk at the scene of an attack in Jerusalem
Israeli rescue workers and paramedics carry an injured man to an ambulance after a Palestinian man, Ibrahim al-Akri, was shot by Israeli police officers after he drove into a crowd of people
Ultra-Orthodox Jews look on from behind a police line at the scene of a killing when a Palestinian man drove a van into a crowd of police and civilians along the tracks of the Light Rail trolley system in East Jerusalem
Both were speaking at the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, AIPAC, which usually serves a showcase for the US-Israeli friendship. Ms Power said that whatever the outcome of the current talks, with Iran on one side of the table and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany on the other, the US will never tolerate a nuclear weapons Iran.
“The US of America will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, period,” she said. She also indicated that while the visit by Mr Netanyahu to Washington, during which he will address the Republican-led US Congress but will not meet with President Barack Obama, had stirred some partisan rancour that too would never get in the way of America’s commitments to Israel.
“We believe firmly that Israel’s security and the US-Israel partnership transcends politics and it always will,” she said to applause. “This partnership should never be politicised and cannot and should not be broken.” The White House is known to be livid that the Prime Minister accepted the invitation from the Republican leadership in Congress to make his speech tomorrow without consulting with Mr Obama.
Mr Netanyahu insisted that relations between his country and the US were not at risk because of the Iran disagreement.
“You are here to tell the world that reports of the demise of the US-Israel relationship are not only premature they are just wrong,” he told the 16,000 delegates attending the AIPAC confab. “Our alliance is stronger than ever.”
For his own part, Mr Netanyahu was also at pains to downplay the toxic impact the Iran issue and his mere presence in Washington has stirred. “The last thing that I would want is for Israel to be a partisan issue,” he said. His speech to Congress is “not intended to inject Israel into the American partisan debate”, nor did he mean to show disrespect to Mr Obama or the US presidency, he insisted.
Israel must use its voice to defend itself, Mr Netanyahu said adding that he would use that voice before Congress to highlight the perils of dealing with an “Iranian regime that is threatening to destroy Israel, that is devouring country after country in the Middle East, that is exporting terror throughout the world and is developing as we speak the capacity to make nuclear weapons, lots of them.”