NEW YORK (PIX11) -- Since Speaker John Boehner invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress many have been up in arms. Opponents called the move political, given the fact the visit comes just weeks before Israel's election. Others said the invitation skirted protocol. But from the very beginning of his speech the Prime Minister referenced the elephant in the room.
"I want to thank you all for being here today. I know that my speech has been the subject of much controversy," said Netanyahu Tuesday.
The Prime Minister's visit comes as a rebuttal to President Obama's announcement that the U-S is close to reaching a nuclear arms deal with Iran -- a deal the Prime Minister says would endanger his people in the long run.
"This deal won't be a farewell to arms, it will be a farewell to arms control."
Netanyahu received a warm welcome from the members of the U.S. House and Senate who were present for his speech Tuesday. But President Obama and dozens of democrats boycotted the Prime Minister's appearance. Among those missing: New York Representative Gregory Meeks.
Representative Charles Rangel said he would boycott the speech, but tweeted that he changed his mind at the request of his constituents and friends.
Not all local Democrats opposed Netanyahu's speech in front of congress; Sate Assemblyman Dov Hikind wrote letters to the members of Congress opposing Netanyahu's speech urging them to change their minds. Hikind represents several Brooklyn neighborhoods including Borough Park which has one of the largest Orthodox Jewish populations outside of Israel.
"Now there is going to be a real debate and I think that's healthy for everybody," said Hikind.
The Assemblyman shot down claims the Prime Minister is playing politics, pointing out that negotiations with Iran are well underway.
"There's a serious threat, it's happening right now," said the Assemblyman. "If the negotiations with Iran were not going on, the Prime Minister would not have come before the election."
Hikind added that the uproar drew more attention to the speech than it would have otherwise received.AlertMe