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Netanyahu takes to Twitter to defend address to Congress

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday he is still on track to visit the United States and talk to a joint session of Congress on March 3, despite an ongoing political fight in the United States that has prompted several Democrats to say they will skip the speech.

"I must fulfill my obligation to speak up on a matter that affects the very survival of my country," Netanyahu tweeted on Tuesday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended his upcoming speech to Congress, and said he still plans to attend despite the political fight over his visit in the United States. Image: AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, Pool

Republicans invited Netanyahu without consulting with Democrats, and several Democrats are now saying they'll protest that decision by not going to the address. Earlier Tuesday, Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) became the first Democratic senator to say he would not show up.

Some in Israel say Netanyahu should cancel his visit, since it's damaging Israel's already damaged relations with the Obama administration. But Netanyahu said he has to go because the fate of his own country is at risk due to Iran's nuclear ambitions, and Congress may be able to help.

Netanyahu downplayed the idea that his visit was aimed at showing up President Barack Obama, and is instead an attempt to "speak up for [the] very survival of my country."

"Israel's survival is not a partisan issue, not in Israel nor in the United States," he said in a full statement. "This doesn't mean that from time to time Israeli governments have not had serious disagreements with American administrations over the best way to achieve the security of Israel."

"None of these disagreements led to a rupture in the relationship between Israel and the United States," he added. "In fact, over time, our relationship grew stronger."

"I intend to speak in the U.S. Congress because Congress might have an important role on a nuclear deal with Iran," he tweeted. "Iran is a regime that is openly committed to Israel's destruction.

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