Netanyahu at airport: I am leaving on a ‘fateful, even historic, mission’

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was leaving on a “fateful, even historic, mission,” as he boarded a plane for Washington DC.

“I feel that I am the emissary of all Israelis, even those who disagree with me, of the entire Jewish People. I am deeply and genuinely concerned for the security of all Israelis, for the fate of the nation, and for the fate of our people and I will do my utmost to ensure our future,” Netanyahu said Sunday morning at Ben Gurion Airport.


Netanyahu, accompanied by his wife Sara and Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, left Israel Sunday for Washington D.C., where he will give a controversial address warning the U.S. about signing a nuclear deal with Iran to a joint session of Congress.

Prior to his address to Congress on Tuesday, Netanyahu will deliver a speech Monday morning to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. He is scheduled to meet Tuesday with a bipartisan group of congressional leaders.
On Saturday night Netanyahu visited the Western Wall in preparation for his trip.

“On the eve my trip to the U.S., I came here to the Western Wall. I would like to take this opportunity to say that I respect U.S. President Barack Obama. I believe in the strength of the relationship between Israel and the US and in their strength to overcome differences of opinion, those that have been and those that will yet be,” Netanyahu said at the Wall. “As Prime Minister of Israel, it is my obligation to see to the security of Israel; therefore, we strongly oppose the agreement being formulated with Iran and the major powers, which could endanger our very existence. In the face of this danger we must unite and also explain the dangers stemming from this agreement, to Israel, to the region and to the world.”

Netanyahu, through Dermer, organized the speech with Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the House speaker, who did not consult with the White House or Democrats in issuing the invitation, which was made in the name of both parties. Obama administration officials will not meet with Netanyahu while he is in Washington, citing the proximity of Israeli elections on March 17. and some 30 Democrats have said they won’t attend the speech. Vice President Joseph Biden will be traveling on the day of the speech as well.