McConnell Welcomes Prime Minister Netanyahu to U.S. Capitol

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today welcoming Prime Minister Netanyahu to the U.S. Capitol:

“Later this morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will deliver an important address to Congress.

“Members of both parties extend a warm welcome to him. This leader is a great friend of our country, and his visit comes at a critical moment in the relations between our countries.

“The Prime Minister’s address coincides with an increasingly aggressive Iranian campaign to expand its sphere of influence across the Middle East.

“It represents a threat to both our countries.

“It represents a threat to moderate Sunni allies.

“And it represents a threat to the international community at large.

“That’s why Prime Minister Netanyahu is here today.

“He is ideally suited to explain the multitude of challenges this presents — including the threat of an Iran with nuclear weapons capability — and how our countries can address them jointly.

“So we’re glad the Prime Minister is here with us today. We’ll be listening closely to what he says.

“I hope the Obama Administration will be listening too, because this visit isn’t about personalities.

“It’s about doing what’s best for both our countries.

“And here, some context is important.

“As it has been since its founding, Israel is in a constant state of existential crisis. It’s continually threatened by terrorists, like Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, who work every day to see a democratic Israel destroyed.

“Israel’s leaders wake every morning knowing that, with just one wrong decision, it could be their last in an open and tolerant democracy.

“That’s the frame through which the Israelis approach their national security policy.

“And here’s the frame the Obama Administration uses. It formulates policy with two objectives in mind: fulfilling political campaign promises made in 2008, and pursuing politically expedient solutions to whatever stands in the way of the first objective.

“You can see the basis for tension right there.

“For me, there are two bookends that really define President Obama’s foreign policy.

“The executive orders that attempted to close Guantanamo — without a credible plan for what to do with its detainees — and to essentially end our ability to capture, detain, and interrogate terrorists — regardless of the threats that remained for our country — represent one bookend.

“The President’s push to withdraw all combat forces from Iraq and Afghanistan by the end of his term, irrespective of threats posed by the Taliban or the senior leadership of Al Qaeda, represents the other.

“This politics-above-policy approach mystifies allies like Israel.

“Israel knows that it may well be the first to suffer if the Obama White House makes another flawed political decision

“But Americans should understand that it’s not just Israel that needs to worry.

“We should be concerned by a nuclear Iran. The whole world should be concerned by a nuclear Iran.

“And the Prime Minister is going to help explain just why that is.

“For Israel’s sake and ours, I for one am very glad he is.”

Related Issues: National Security, Israel, Iran, Guantanamo Detention Facility