Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid on Saturday criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's planned speech in front of the US Congress, scheduled to take place just two weeks ahead of the Israeli elections.
"Netanyahu is destroying Israel's relations with the United States over an elections speech," Lapid said during a cultural event in Modi'in.
Netanyahu was invited to speak to a joint session of Congress about the Iranian threat by House Speaker John Boehner. The prime minister's speech on Capitol Hill, not far from the White House, was not coordinated with the Obama administration. Both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry announced they will not meet with Netanyahu during his Washington visit.
"I agree that it's important that Israel's voice is heard, and it's important that voice is loud and clear on the Iranian issue, but in this case what's happening is that for an elections speech, he's willing to destroy the strategic ties," Lapid said.
"I've spoken to American officials over the weekend and they are shocked by it. This was done in breach of protocol - the White House is the body with whom (the Israeli government) conducts its day-to-day dealings, including on the negotiations with the Iranians," Lapid added.
"This speech might get Netanyahu some votes in Likud headquarters in Modi'in and Jerusalem, but it will mostly cause damage. If his concern truly lied with the Iranian issue, he would've handled this differently, in coordination with the White House," he concluded.
Similar sentiments were voiced by the Zionist Camp's Tzipi Livni, who said Netanyahu's speech will hurt Israeli security and the IDF's soldiers. "And for what? For politics," she said.
"IDF soldiers are being dragged to The Hague over war crimes they didn't commit, and the wall that stops that is the United States that helps Israel curb this attack. That's why our relations with the United States are essential to our security," Livni said at a cultural event in Bat Yam.
"Netanyahu is hurting these ties with our strategic ally, who vetoes all of the UN Security Council's decisions against Israel. Netanyahu is making a move that may serve him personally and politically, but hurts Israel's security," she added.
"A responsible prime minister who thinks of the good of the state's citizens and the good of the state would not have done this. A responsible prime minister would've known to work with the president of the United States - any president - and maintain our most important interests," Livni asserted.
"When Herzog and I form the next government, we'll know how to work with any American president - Republican or Democrat. We will know how to recruit the world to our side and for the security of the state of Israel," she concluded.
Likud Deputy Minister Ofir Akunis, who was at the same cultural event in Bat Yam, said that he "regrets that post-Zionist perceptions took over the Labor (Zionist Camp) party."
"Netanyahu is going to represent all citizens of Israel, coalition and opposition, in a matter that should not face dispute in Israel - Iran's nuclear program and the expansion of radical Islamic terrorism. Regretfully, the cynicism and the superficiality of debate in this elections campaign leads the opposition to automatically oppose any national mission," Akunis added.
Meanwhile, Zionist Camp leader Isaac Herzog visited a market in the Arab city of Tira on Saturday morning, saying "we can live here together because both Jews and Arabs want social justice and diplomatic possibilities. Poverty and social gaps hurt all citizens of Israel and a government led by me will work to promote coexistence and growth for Israeli citizens in all fields."