- Associated Press - Monday, March 2, 2015

Israel’s leader insists the alliance between his country and the United States is “stronger than ever.”

Benjamin Netanyahu’s comments Monday to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee kicked off a charged visit that has sparked criticism in both the U.S. and Israel.

The centerpiece of his trip is an address to Congress Tuesday, which came at the invitation of congressional Republicans and was not coordinated with the White House.

The Israeli leader says however that the speech is not intended to show disrespect for President Barack Obama.

He told a supporting crowd of thousands that “reports of the demise of the U.S.-Israel relation is not just premature, they are wrong.”

Mr. Netanyahu also underscored Israel’s right to defend itself.

The days when the Jewish people are passive in the face of those who want to annihilate us — those days are over!”

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