WASHINGTON — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was praised Tuesday by the entire Arkansas delegation for delivering a clear and compelling case for drawing a hard line against Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

WASHINGTON — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was praised Tuesday by the entire Arkansas delegation for delivering a clear and compelling case for drawing a hard line against Iran’s nuclear ambitions.


"He made a compelling and impassioned speech about why the world and the United States can’t live with a nuclear Iran," said Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. "A bad deal doesn’t stop the path to a bomb; it paves the path to a bomb."


Netanyahu, who spoke to a joint session of Congress at the invitation of House Speaker John Boehner, comes as the U.S., France, Germany, Russia, China and the United Kingdom are seeking an agreement to lift sanctions against Iran as it agrees to curtail a nuclear weapons program.


In particular, Netanyahu argued that the basic deal is flawed because it would allow Iran to start a nuclear program in 10 years. And, in particular, he said it does nothing to reduce the number of centrifuges or missiles that Iran can possess.


He said the world is at a crossroads and described the path that President Barack Obama supports as one that "leads to a bad deal that will at best curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions for a while, but it will inexorably lead to a nuclear-armed Iran whose unbridled aggression will inevitably lead to war."


The speech was punctuated by loud demonstrations of support from Republican lawmakers as well as some Democrats. Other Democrats declined to attend the speech, which the White House had criticized because it comes just two weeks ahead of Israeli elections.


Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., did attend but was not supportive of the message. "I went. I listened. I was disappointed," she said.


Cotton said that he wished Obama had not inflated the partisanship over Netanyahu’s appearance. Regardless, he said, he hopes the American public will heed the prime minister’s warnings of the danger of a nuclear Iran.


"It is important that he reminds Americans that as bad as the Islamic State is, the state of Iran is an even graver danger," Cotton said. "ISIS is using medieval weapons and tactics, but with Iran, you have a medieval regime with the most advanced scientific technologies designed not only to hit Israel but other countries in the region and the United States, ultimately."


Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., said he agreed with Netanyahu’s assessment that the deal now on the table should be rejected.


"No deal is better than a bad deal," he said.


Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, said his hands were "kind of numb" after applauding so much for Netanyahu.


"A nuclear Iran would be a real threat not only for the Middle East and Israel but for the rest of the world," Westerman said. "And what he (Netanyahu) said about the enemy of our enemy is still our enemy, I thought, was profound. Iran and ISIS may be enemies, but both are still our enemies."


Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, said America must support Israel against Iran.


"A nuclear Iran endangers the very existence of Israel, a bright light of democracy and our greatest ally in a region that is becoming more and more volatile with every passing day," he said. "Make no mistake, America must mitigate this threat."


Womack invited former Wal-Mart Chief Operation Officer Don Soderquist to attend the address. Soderquist is a longtime supporter of the prime minister.


Netanyahu was the keynote speaker at a private luncheon that Soderquist organized at the Northwest Arkansas Convention Center in April 2001.


Soderquist was one of many guests who attended the speech. Others included Las Vegas gaming magnate Sheldon Adelson, entertainer Pat Boone, former Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Newt Gingrich and attorney Alan Dershowitz.


Netanyahu opened his address with an apology, saying he had not intended the speech to be political and went out of his way to thank the United States and Obama for supporting Israel.


"Some of what the president has done for Israel might never be known, because it touches on some of the most sensitive and strategic issues that arise between an American president and an Israeli prime minister," Netanyahu said. "But I know it, and I will always be grateful to President Obama for that support."


Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, said he thought Netanyahu had struck a constructive tone.


"He was extremely bipartisan in his remarks," Hill said. Yet, was able to voice concerns that a deal with Iran must be "the right deal."


"We should have sanctions in place until Iran gives up on its nuclear development. So, I believe I share the prime minister’s concerns," Hill said.


Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, agreed.


"The United States must stand with Israel and reject support for any deal that allows Iran access to acquire or develop nuclear weapons," he said.


While most members of Congress applauded Netanyahu as he spoke of Obama’s support for Israel, Cotton did not. Instead, he sat with a stoic expression.


Cotton later acknowledged that Obama has continued some policies in support of Israel but is failing them on this fundamental issue of Iran’s nuclear intent.


"Everything pales in comparison to a policy that could create a nuclear Iran," he said.