Israel’s ambassador to the United States has defended Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to address a joint session of Congress in March, calling the movie a “sacred duty” that is vital for the “survival” of the state of Israel.

Ambassador Ron Dermer, speaking at an event Sunday night, said that current nuclear talks between the P5+1 and the Islamic Republic of Iran leave the possibility for Iran to reach “threshold nuclear power.”

Reiterating Netanyahu’s stance, Dermer made clear that Israel cannot and will not accept any outcome where Iran has access to nuclear material.

“The prime minister’s visit to Washington is intended for one purpose, and one purpose only,” he told an audience at an Israel Bonds dinner in Florida. “To speak up while there is still time to speak up. To speak up when there is still time to make a difference.”

Netanyahu has come under a harsh wave of criticism for accepting an invitation from House Speak John Boehner to speak to Congress. The Obama administration called the move “unusual” and announced that the president refuses to meet with the prime minister while in Washington.

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Netanyahu is expected to urge US lawmakers to pass a bill that calls for harsher sanctions against Iran should nuclear talks fail to reach an agreement by the June 30 deadline. Obama has vowed that he would veto the bill, saying that the bill would “all but guarantee that diplomacy fails.”

“The prime minister’s visit here is not intended to show any disrespect for President Obama,” Dermer added. He said that the address is in no way an attempt to “wade into your political debate.”

While an unnamed US senior official said that Netanyahu “spat” in Obama’s face by accepting Boehner’s invitation, the prime minister defended his decision on Sunday.

“As Prime Minister of Israel, I am obligated to make every effort in order to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons that would be aimed at the State of Israel. This effort is worldwide and I will go anywhere I am invited in order to enunciate the State of Israel’s position and in order to defend its future and its existence,” he said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.

While Obama seems to be taking a softening stance towards Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Ambassador Dermer stated that the current agreement being discussed “could endanger the very existence of the State of Israel.”

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