JERUSALEM, Israel – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, attended a ceremony in New York Wednesday evening honoring Jewish Agency Chairman of the Executive Natan Sharansky. Former US President George Bush joined the celebration.
Sharansky, who was born in Ukraine, spent nine years as a "refusenik" in a Soviet prison during the 1970s and 1980s before being allowed to immigrate to Israel.
Netanyahu said the same faith that strengthened Sharansky and other Soviet refuseniks could be applied to Iran, which he called "another would-be empire in the Middle East."
Iran too has a "hollow core. If you press them, they will crack. They will succumb to strong pressure from the free world," Netanyahu said.
"If you want to honor Natan's legacy, then support the brave men and women of Iran who are fighting for freedom, yearning for freedom, praying for freedom and praying for our support for their struggle. That's the best way to honor Natan's legacy," he said.
On Tuesday, after addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference in Washington, Netanyahu met with congressmen on Capitol Hill, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY; Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY; members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-WI.
He also met with Reps. Kevin McCarthy, R-CA; Steve Scalise, R-LA; Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-WA; Nancy Pelosi, D-CA; Steny Hoyer, D-MD; and James Clyburn, D-SC.
Netanyahu discussed Iran's aggression in the region, including its attempts to establish a military presence in Syria on Israel's northern border. He also spoke about the inherent dangers of the Iranian nuclear deal signed under former President Barack Obama's administration, saying it either must be reworked or revoked.
In related news, Brig. Gen. Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Division, said Iran's ballistic missile production is booming.
"In the past we had to do a lot of explaining to various bodies for our actions, but it's not like that anymore," Hajizadeh said. "Our production has increased three-fold compared to the past."
Meanwhile in Israel, despite ongoing investigations against Netanyahu, the latest poll shows his Likud Party winning 34 Knesset seats if elections were held today, which would allow him to form a solid coalition of 67 seats.