JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked a delegation of U.S. senators for their bipartisan support for Israel and warned the lawmakers 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<" Netanyahu said Jan. 19 at a meeting with the delegation led by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). "History will not forgive those who do not stop Iran’s nuclear program."
Other senators at the meeting included Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Christopher Coons (D-Del.).
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 upheaval in Israel’s neighbor to the north; and the advanced contacts between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.
The U.S. delegation also met 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.