01:12 - Source: CNN
Boehner, Netanyahu comment on potential Iran deal
CNN  — 

In a show of support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, House Speaker John Boehner highlighted the “strong as ever” bonds between the two countries, as he and a bipartisan congressional delegation visited Israel, the same date of the nuclear deal deadline between world powers and Iran.

Boehner and Netanyahu gave a brief statement together Wednesday afternoon before meeting in private.

“The bonds between the United States and Israel are as strong as ever. Our two countries cooperate on many different levels. And while we may have political disagreements from time to time, the bonds between our two nations are strong and they’re going to continue to be strong,” Boehner said.

Netanyahu echoed his statement, saying “I believe it’s plain to see that those common values and interests are clearer than ever.”

“The Middle East is plagued by anti-Western, anti-democratic and anti-American extremism. Terrorists brutally behead their shackled captives before video cameras. Despots lead their people in chants of ‘Death to America’ while building intercontinental ballistic missiles to reach America,” Netanyahu said.

Neither leader mentioned Iran or the negotiations directly in their joint press conference, but Netanyahu’s statement is very similar to a comment he made earlier in the day, which explicitly mentions Iran as a threat to Israel and the broader Middle East.

Speaking alone about 90 minutes before Boehner joined him for a second press conference, Netanyahu said, “Iran’s claim that its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes doesn’t square with Iran’s insistence on keeping underground nuclear facilities, advanced centrifuges and a heavy water reactor. Nor does it square with Iran’s insistence on developing ICBMs and its refusal to come clean with the IAEA on its past weaponization efforts.”

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Boehner was in Israel at the same time as a bipartisan delegation, which included Reps. Michael Turner (R-Ohio), Loretta Sanchez (D-California) and Paul Cook (R-California).

Boehner’s visit during the final days of negotiations with Iran gives Netanyahu a high-profile opportunity to lobby against the deal. Instead of trying to prevent a deal from happening, he has focused his efforts on specific details, pushing to limit Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, number of centrifuges, and advanced research capability if a deal is reached.

Earlier in the week, Netanyahu met with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), who promised to cooperate with Netanyahu regardless of the outcome of the negotiations.

President Reuven Rivlin also met with the delegation. Only one day after the swearing in ceremony of the Knesset, all of the attention in Israel has shifted to the negotiations, which loomed larger than the ceremony.

“We are sitting here in Jerusalem, but our thoughts are focused on what is happening in Lausanne. There is yet to be a clear picture of what is happening there, and reports are contradicting, but we are of course greatly concerned by the possibility that Iran would achieve nuclear capabilities,” Rivlin told the delegation. “A nuclear Iran is not only a threat to Israel, naturally we are worried as they call from the podium of the United Nations for Israel’s end. Despite this, I have no doubt that under the leadership of the American President, members of Congress and the Senate, it is possible to stop every evil in the world.”

Boehner and the Prime Minister’s Office have been very tight-lipped about the House Speaker’s plans while in Israel, but Boehner also has a meeting scheduled with Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon before he returns to the United States.

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