Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has turned his row with the White House into part of his campaign, releasing a new video Saturday night which argued that if Israel's first prime minister had listened to the United States, the State of Israel might not exist.
The new campaign ad compares Netanyahu's upcoming, much contested speech to Congress with speeches made by Israel's first prime minister, David Ben Gurion.
The black-and-white text reads, "In 1948, Ben-Gurion stood before a fateful moment: The creation of the State of Israel."
The ad continues: "The U.S. secretary of state firmly objected [the establishment of Israel]. Ben-Gurion — contrary to the State Department's position — announced the establishment of the state... Would we be here today had Ben-Gurion not done the right thing?"
The clip ends with the slogan "Only Likud. Only Netanyahu."
Netanyahu is set to address Congress on March 3, just two weeks before Israel goes to the polls to vote for a new government. The planned address has strained ties between Israel and the U.S. amid arguments that Congressional Republicans orchestrated Netanyahu's visit without coordinating with the White House or State Department.
Netanyahu has said that his trip to Washington is aimed at "warning" the West about a "bad deal" with Iran over its nuclear program. Netanyahu has claimed to know what the final deal with Iran will look like, telling reporters last week that it was a "bad agreement."
"We know that Tehran knows the details of the talks. Now I tell you that Israel also knows the details of the proposed agreement," Netanyahu said Thursday. "I think this is a bad agreement that is dangerous for the state of Israel, and not just for it."
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki responded to those comments Thursday, telling reporters that, "The fact is that he knows more than the negotiators, in that there is no deal yet...Obviously, if there's a deal we'll be explaining the deal and explaining why and how it prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. And if that's the case and we come to a deal, it's hard to see how anyone wouldn't see that's to the benefit of the international community."
On Friday, the Associated Press reported that the White House was mulling ways to undermine Netanyahu's speech, including a possible media blitz by President Barack Obama and a White House snub of the annual AIPAC conference to held in Washington. The White House has already announced that it would not meet with Netanyahu, arguing that it would be inappropriate considering the close proximity to Israel's elections.
Sheera Frenkel is a cybersecurity correspondent for BuzzFeed News based in San Francisco. She has reported from Israel, Egypt, Jordan and across the Middle East. Her secure PGP fingerprint is 4A53 A35C 06BE 5339 E9B6 D54E 73A6 0F6A E252 A50F
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