Row between US and Netanyahu worsens

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accepted an invitation to address Congress next week. Photo taken from BBC

A row between the US and Benjamin Netanyahu has deepened, with the Israeli leader accusing America and others of "giving up" on trying to stop Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.
The US Secretary of State questioned Netanyahu's judgement on the issue.
Republican leaders have invited Netanyahu to address the US Congress next week, angering Democrats.
A White House spokesman warned against reducing US-Israeli ties to a party political issue.
Earlier, US National Security Adviser Susan Rice said  Netanyahu's visit was "destructive to the fabric of the relationship".
"We want the relationship between the United States and Israel to be unquestionably strong, immutable... regardless of which party may be in charge in either country," she told PBS television.
'May not be correct'
 Netanyahu responded to Ms Rice with a robust defence of his actions.
In a speech in Israel, he said the US and others were "accepting that Iran will gradually, within a few years, will develop capabilities to produce material for many nuclear weapons".
"I respect the White House and the president of the United States but on such a fateful matter, that can determine whether or not we survive, I must do everything to prevent such a great danger for Israel," he said in a speech.
The White House is negotiating with Iran on its nuclear programme and has rejected calls for additional sanctions on the regime.
US Secretary of State John Kerry rebuffed  Netanyahu, saying: "He may have a judgment that just may not be correct here."
He said it was premature to criticise nuclear the negotiations with Tehran. "The president has made clear - I can't state this more firmly - the policy is Iran will not get a nuclear weapon,"  Kerry told senators.
He was speaking after returning from the latest round of talks in Geneva involving Iran, the US and five other world powers.
Analysis - Barbara Plett Usher, BBC News, Washington
Administration officials have been hitting back at  Netanyahu's aggressive opposition to the nuclear deal they're negotiating with Iran - they're unhappy his speech to Congress will give him a platform to make his case as talks reach a critical juncture.
Susan Rice's comments highlight that strain and are the most direct reference by a senior official to the damage caused by the controversy over the visit. It was arranged by Republican congressional leaders without consulting the Democrats or the White House, just two weeks before  Netanyahu faces an election.
That has angered Democrats, some of whom feel they'll be forced to choose between President Obama and their desire not to upset Israel. More than a dozen have said they plan to skip the speech, opening an unprecedented breach in the usual show of bipartisan support for Israel.
 Netanyahu was invited by House Speaker John Boehner in what is seen as a rebuke to US President Barack Obama's Iran policy.
 Netanyahu - who supports more sanctions on Iran - is expected to discuss Iran, as well as Islamist militant groups, in his address.
'Breach of protocol'
The Israeli leader has turned down an invitation to meet Senate Democrats privately, saying this "could compound the misperception of partisanship" surrounding his trip.
Several Democratic members of Congress including Vice-President Joe Biden have said they would not attend the speech.
Republican leaders did not consult the Obama administration before inviting  Netanyahu, which the White House has called a breach of protocol.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Wednesday: "The president has said the relationship between the US and Israel can't just be reduced to a relationship between the Republican party and the Likud party."
Obama does not plan to meet  Netanyahu next week. The White House cited the "long-standing practice" of not meeting government leaders close to elections, which Israel will hold in mid-March.
Netanyahu is fighting a tough election against the Labour Party's Yitzhak Herzog, who has focused on the prime minister's cooler relations with  Obama.



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