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Mon 2 Mar 2015 12:31 PM

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Israeli official sees US Congress as 'last brake' to stop Iran deal

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in the United States for a speech this week that has strained US-Israeli relations

Israeli official sees US Congress as 'last brake' to stop Iran deal
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Getty Images)

The US Congress could be "the last brake"
for stopping a nuclear deal with Iran, a senior Israeli official said on Sunday
as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in the United States for a speech
this week that has strained US-Israeli relations.

The official, who declined to be identified, told
reporters on Netanyahu's plane that the prime minister in his address to
Congress on Tuesday would give a detailed explanation of his objections to a
deal with Iran.

"In my opinion, Congress could be the last
brake for stopping the deal - including if it is to happen on March 24,"
the official said, adding it was Israel's impression that members of Congress
"do not necessarily know the details of the deal coming together, which we
do not see as a good deal."

Israel fears that President Barack Obama's Iran
diplomacy, with an end-of-March deadline for a framework accord with six
countries including the United States, will allow its archfoe to develop atomic
weapons, something Tehran denies seeking.

"It should be remembered that we would be in
favor of a good deal," the official said. "We favor a deal that
consensually strips Iran of its ability to attain a nuclear bomb."

By accepting an invitation from the Republican
Party to speak to Congress, Netanyahu infuriated the Obama administration,
which said it was not told of the speech before plans were made public in an
apparent breach of protocol.

The Israeli prime minister, who is running for
re-election in a March 17 ballot, has framed his visit as being above politics
and he portrayed himself as being a guardian for all Jews.

Netanyahu described his trip to Washington as
"a fateful, even historic, mission," as he boarded his plane in Tel
Aviv.

He is expected to use his speech to urge Congress
to approve new sanctions against Iran despite Obama's pledge to veto such
legislation because it would jeopardize nuclear talks.

US senators introduced legislation on Friday
requiring congressional review of any deal with Iran over its nuclear program.
It would require Obama to submit to Congress the text of any agreement within
five days of concluding a final deal with Iran. The bill would also prohibit
Obama from suspending or waiving sanctions on Iran passed by Congress for 60
days after a deal.

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