Photo: Reuters
Prime Minister Benajmin Netanyahu
Photo: Reuters

Boehner defends Netanyahu speech as White House decides not to snub AIPAC

Head of Republicans rejected claims that Netanyahu's speech will be destructive to US-Israel ties, instead echoing claims made by PM that it was a nuclear deal with Iran would be 'destructive.'

The Republican leader of the US House of Representatives defended the invitation to the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress about Iran. Meanwhile, another top Republican said that Netanyahu would meet with the Senate leaders from both parties after the speech.



Speaker John Boehner also is rejecting criticism from National Security Adviser Susan Rice that the speech is "destructive" to US-Israel relations. "I couldn't disagree more," Boehner said at a new conference in reference to a Rice's comment.


Netanyahu with Boehner and Pelosi (Photo: AFP)
Netanyahu with Boehner and Pelosi (Photo: AFP)


"The American people and both parties in Congress have always stood with Israel and nothing, and no one, could get in the way," Boehner said. "What is destructive in my view is making a bad deal that paves the way for a nuclear Iran. That's destructive," he said.


Boehner said it was important for the US public to hear what Netanyahu has to say about the "grave threats" Israel faces. "That is why the prime minister is coming, and I'm glad that most of my colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, will be there," he said.


Related stories:


Meanwhile, the White House has decided against snubbing America's leading pro-Israel lobby and will Rise and UN Ambassador Samantha Power to address its annual policy conference in a bid to ease soaring tensions with Israel over a potential Iran nuclear deal.


The American Israeli Public Affairs Committee will announce Thursday that the Obama administration has confirmed that Rice and Power will speak to its conference this weekend.


That's according to people familiar with the decision, who spoke on condition of anonymity before the announcement. US officials had floated the idea of sending a non-Cabinet level official to show displeasure with Netanyahu's upcoming speech to Congress in which he will argue against an Iran deal.


Despite refusing to meet a number of top Democrats, Netanyahu will meet with the Republican and Democratic leaders of the US Senate on Tuesday after he addresses the US Congress, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Thursday.


The meeting at the US Capitol among Netanyahu, McConnell and Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid comes as Democrats have accused Republicans of seeking to make the US-Israeli relationship a partisan issue. Republicans invited Netanyahu to speak to lawmakers without consulting Democrats.


Several Democrats have said they will skip the speech. Some said they do not want a foreign leader weighing in on US foreign affairs. Others said they feel it is inappropriate for Netanyahu to address the US Congress just two weeks before Israeli elections.


Netanyahu angered the White House, Democrats and scores of Israelis by accepting the invitation from Republicans, who did not consult with the administration in advance of the invite.


Only on Sunday, Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog urged Netanyahu to cancel his planned speech, saying it will cause "strategic damage" to Israel's ties with the United States.


Isaac Herzog (Photo: EPA) (Photo: EPA)
Isaac Herzog (Photo: EPA)


"I call on Netanyahu again: Stop. Enough, Bibi, enough. You aren't going. Don't go. You will cause strategic damage to Israel's standing and to the relationship with the United States," Herzog said at a press conference, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname.


Herzog also condemned Netanyahu's decision not to meet with Senate Democrats when he goes to Washington next week, saying the prime minister is "playing politics inside American politics." In turning down the offer, Netanyahu said such a meeting could "compound the misperception of partisanship" surrounding his visit.


The Israeli opposition leader is Netanyahu's main challenger in elections next month. On Thursday, he also condemned Netanyahu's decision not to meet with Senate Democrats when he goes to Washington next week, saying the prime minister is "playing politics."


Netanyahu has said he is determined to deliver the speech in order to press his case against an emerging international deal on Iran's nuclear program. The US and Israel have escalated their public spat over the speech.


Netanyahu accused world powers of rolling over to allow Tehran to develop nuclear weapons. Secretary of State John Kerry openly questioned Netanyahu's judgment on the issue and National Security Adviser Susan Rice called the speech "destructive" to US-Israel ties.


Reuters contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 02.26.15, 19:30
 new comment
This will delete your current comment