Netanyahu thanks U.S. senators for support, warns against Iran

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked a delegation of U.S. senators for their unreserved, bipartisan support for Israel and warned them that it was time to stop Iran’s nuclear program.

“Building in Jerusalem is not the world’s problem; a nuclear Iran is the world’s problem. History will not forgive those who do not stop Iran’s nuclear program,” Netanyahu said Saturday night during a meeting with the delegation, led by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Other senators present at the meeting included Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Christopher Coons (D-Del.).

During the meeting, the senators reportedly discussed with Netanyahu the changes in the Middle East, including the need to intensify sanctions against Iran, which is continuing to advance its nuclear program, the danger of Syria’s chemical weapons stash during the current upheaval in Israel’s neighbor to the north, and the advanced contacts between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

The delegation of senators also met Saturday night with Israeli President Shimon Peres, who also thanked the senators for the bipartisan support for Israel in the United States, specifically on the issue of Iran.

“We appreciate the American position on Iran, that it cannot be permitted a nuclear weapon if possible by civilian means but that all options are on the table,” Peres said.

Peres said the senators’ visit sends a message “that America remains engaged in the great march for freedom and peace in the region.”

McCain called Israel “an island of hope and a beacon to people all over the world who see Israel as a model and as an example of democracy and freedom.”

Before visiting Israel, the delegation visited Egypt, Afghanistan, and Jordan.

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