Dianne Feinstein: Benjamin Netanyahu 'Arrogant' For Claiming To Speak For All Jews

03/01/2015 12:24 pm ET | Updated Mar 02, 2015

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Sunday that it was "arrogant" for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to presume to speak for all Jews on a potential nuclear deal between the United States and Iran.

Netanyahu has defended his upcoming speech to Congress on Iran in part by saying that he feels like he is an "emissary of all Israelis, even those who disagree with me, of the entire Jewish people."

During an appearance on CNN's "State of The Union," Feinstein, who is Jewish, dismissed the suggestion that Netanyahu spoke on her behalf.

"No, he doesn't speak for me on this," she said. "I think it's a rather arrogant statement. I think the Jewish community is like any other community, there are different points of view. I think that arrogance does not befit Israel, candidly. I think Israel is a nation that needs to be protected, that needs to stand free, that hopefully can work constructively with Palestinians to have a side-by-side state and to put an end to the bitterness that has plagued this whole area."

Feinstein said that, despite her criticisms, she plans to attend Netanyahu's speech to Congress Tuesday.

"I intend to go and I'll listen respectfully, I don't intend to jump up and down," she said. Feinstein added that she hopes Netanyahu speaks about what would happen if negotiations with Iran fail to reach a deal, or reach a deal that the U.S. does not support.

Slightly less than half of American voters believe that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was wrong to invite Netanyahu to address Congress without first notifying the White House, according to a new NBC News/ Wall Street Journal Poll. According to the poll, 30 percent back the invitation and 22 percent said that they don't know enough to decide. Two-thirds of Democrats surveyed said that the invitation shouldn't have been extended, while just 28 percent of Republicans said the same.

The speech has set up a tense back-and-forth between the Obama administration, congressional Republicans and the Israeli prime minister. While the White House initially called the invitation a "breach of protocol," top officials have recently taken a somewhat harder line on the speech, calling it "destructive" to U.S.-Israel relations.

"It's been frankly remarkable to me the extent to which over the last five or six weeks the White House has attacked the prime minister, attacked me for wanting to hear from one of our closest allies," Boehner said Sunday on "Face The Nation." "The animosity between the White House and the prime minister is no secret in this town, but they've certainly made it worse over the last five or six weeks."

Netanyahu is expected to speak out against a potential deal between the U.S. and Iran as a deadline for negotiations approaches. Netanyahu wants to shut down the Iranian nuclear program completely, while the Obama administration has indicated a willingness to let the country retain some of its nuclear activity, according to the Associated Press.

Obama has said that he will not meet with Netanyahu during the visit because of its proximity to the Israeli elections, set for March 17. While some members of Congress have said that they will skip the speech, Netanyahu plans to meet with a bipartisan group of Senate leadership afterward.

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