Jerusalem – Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani said Sunday if he were Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he would deliver a speech to the US Congress out of an obligation to his country to put before the American people the danger a nuclear Iran poses to Israel.
“If I were him, I would make the speech,” Giuliani said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.
Giuliani, a Republican who is in the country for two days to address a business conference in Herzliya, met with Netanyahu for an hour on Sunday. The two have known each other for years, and Giuliani said he tries to visit Israel at least every two years.
According to the former mayor, although the issue of the controversial speech to Congress in March came up during their meeting, the focus was Iran.
“He is laser focused on Iran as a danger to his country, the region and the world,” Giuliani said, adding that he believes the controversy surrounding the speech has been “blown way out of proportion. It seems a perfect time to have him address Congress because we are going through all these hearings on Iran.”
Giuliani was referring to hearings organized by Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, who has called on former generals and secretaries of state to testify regarding what they think should be in an agreement with Iran.
“ We should hear the views of probably the person and country most affected by whatever we do about Iran,” he added.
Giuliani dismissed concerns about the optics of the visit and whether House Speaker John Boehner, who invited Netanyahu, is using the prime minister in his political battles with President Barack Obama, or whether Netanyahu is using the speech for domestic political purposes.
“I know John Boehner a lot better than I know the president,” Giuliani said, “and I think that he thought inviting the prime minister was a no-brainer. He probably thought, ‘We had him before, we are going to have him again. Why should the president care. He’ll probably want to see him, as well.’” Giuliani said he did not know why the administration would be afraid of whatever Netanyahu had to say to Congress.
Regarding what impact a single speech could make, especially considering that the administration knows Netanyahu’s viewpoint very well, Giuliani said the administration has shown itself in the past willing to change positions according to public opinion. His implication was that it might do so regarding Iran if the polls showed opposition to its position.
As to concerns that this issue was turning Israel – long a subject both parties could agree on – into a partisan issue, Giuliani said the Democrats would do so at their own peril. Some 70-75 percent of Americans support Netanyahu’s position, he asserted, adding that the number showing support for Israel was even higher.
As a result, it would be a terrible mistake for the Democratic Party to insult the prime minister by not being there for his speech, and I don’t think they will make that mistake.”
On Friday, Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi said that she did not know if democrats would show up for Netanyahu’s address.