Israel | Netanyahu Makes Controversial Speech to U.S. Congress, Wins 2015 Election, Faces Worst Violence in Years
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- Netanyahu Makes Controversial Speech to U.S. Congress, Wins 2015 Election, Faces Worst Violence in Years
Netanyahu Makes Controversial Speech to U.S. Congress, Wins 2015 Election, Faces Worst Violence in Years
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Source: Atef Safadi/Pool Photo via AP
On March 3, 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Congress in an effort to sway the Obama administration against continuing negotiations with Iran over nuclear weapons. Netanyahu called the negotiations to get Iran to freeze its nuclear program "a bad deal." In his speech, he said the deal that the Obama administration wanted "could well threaten the survival of my country" because it would not prevent Iran from having and using nuclear weapons. To the contrary, he said, the deal "will all but guarantee" nuclear arms in Iran.
During his speech, Netanyahu received repeated standing ovations and was greeted by bipartisan members despite the fact that more than 50 democrats were not in attendance. The speech generated controversy in the U.S. because House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) invited Netanyahu to address Congress without consulting the Obama administration, a breach of protocol. The speech was seen by many as an effort by Republicans to undermine Obama's foreign policy. Also, Netanyahu's appearance came just two weeks before Israeli elections. President Obama did not meet with Netanyahu during the prime minister's visit.
After polls leading up to the election had him behind, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party won the March 17 election. Netanyahu's Likud Party took 30 out of 120 seats. Likud's main rival, Zionist Union alliance, led by Isaac Herzog, won 24 seats. The win for Likud meant that odds were highly in favor of Netanyahu serving a fourth term as prime minister. Netanyahu must form a government, a task which could be harder after he vowed leading up to the election that no Palestinian state would be established while he was in office, a vow that insulted Arab citizens and alienated some political allies.
However, after a backlash, Netanyahu backtracked from the statements against the establishment of a Palestinian state that he made leading up to the election. In a March 19 TV interview, he said that he remained committed to a two-state vision and Palestinian statehood if conditions in the region improved. "I don't want a one-state solution, I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution, but for that circumstances have to change," Netanyahu said in the interview two days after the election.
During the first two weeks of Oct. 2015, 32 Palestinians and seven Israelis were killed in what was the biggest spike in violence the area has seen in recent years. The violence broke out in part over what the Palestinians saw as increased encroachment by Israelis on the al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, a site important to both Muslims and Jews. However, the violence quickly spread beyond Jerusalem.
On Oct. 16, at the request of council member Jordan, the United Nations Security Council held a meeting to discuss the area's increasing unrest. During the meeting, France proposed that an international observer be placed at the al-Aqsa mosque, but that idea was rejected by Israel. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called for Israeli and Palestinian leaders to meet and agree on a plan to stop the violence.
Palestinian hurls a stone in clashes with Israeli troops,
near Ramallah, West Bank, Oct. 2015
Source: AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed