After coming under fire from several members of Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took to Twitter on Tuesday to defend a planned address to the legislative body next month and said his country had "profound disagreements" with the United States on its negotiations with Iran.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) invited Netanyahu to speak to Congress while the White House is trying to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran. President Barack Obama has said he will not meet with the prime minister during the visit because of its proximity to the Israeli elections, which are just two weeks later. The administration has said Netanyahu breached protocol by not consulting the White House beforehand.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu tweeted that the survival of his country is at stake and that this isn't a personal dispute with Obama.
I am going to the United States not because I seek a confrontation with the President, but to speak up for very survival of my country.
Iran is a regime that is openly committed to Israel's destruction.
We do have a profound disagreement today w/U.S. Admin & P5+1 over the offer that has been made to Iran which threatens Israel's survival.
In a statement released Tuesday, Netanyahu reiterated that the dispute is "not a personal disagreement between President Obama and me."
"I deeply appreciate all that he has done for Israel in many fields. Equally, I know that the President appreciates my responsibility, my foremost responsibility, to protect and defend the security of Israel," he added.
On Monday, Obama said that he has "very real differences" with Netanyahu on the Iran negotiations. Obama has pushed Congress to hold off on new sanctions with Iran, arguing that they could thwart a long-term nuclear deal. Obama has urged Netanyahu to stop pushing Congress to impose new sanctions.
The proposed deal, Netanyahu said, would allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon "within a few years" that could destroy Israel.
At least 17 Democratic members of Congress announced they would not attend the speech, and Israeli officials were reportedly considering having Netanyahu address a closed-door meeting or the American Israel Public Affairs Committee annual meeting in Washington, D.C., though no changes have been announced.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who announced Tuesday that he would not attend, called the speech a "tawdry and high-handed stunt."
Netanyahu's address is set for March 3.