The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ohio Republican John Boehner, has issued an invitation for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress on March 3. According to his own account, Boehner did so in coordination with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu has drawn criticism, bafflement, and outrage from across the political spectrum – in the U.S., in Israel and around the world. This invitation was made without coordinating with the White House, in violation of protocol – but it violated much more than that.
- Boehner and McConnell violated the unwritten rule that Congress not meddle in a foreign country’s elections. With this invitation, Netanyahu is set to address Congress only two weeks before Israeli general elections – elections in which Netanyahu is a candidate.
- Boehner and McConnell have violated the cardinal rule that U.S. support for Israel should not be turned into a partisan issue. Boehner has made clear that his goal in inviting Netanyahu at this time is to try to tip the balance in Congress against the White House in the ongoing debate over Iran nuclear negotiations and new Iran sanctions.
- This move to use Israel as a wedge issue in internal American politics is inappropriate and irresponsible. In short, this invitation also represents a shameless attempt to exploit support for Israel to undermine the President and manipulate Congress into supporting policies that are potentially deeply harmful to U.S. national security and national interests.
The pro-Israel, pro-U.S., pro-peace in the Middle East position on this mess is clear: Boehner must rescind his invitation to Netanyahu, and reissue it such that Netanyahu, or whoever the next prime minister of Israel may be, is invited to address Congress at a date that is after negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program have concluded, and after elections in Israel are complete and a new Israeli government is sworn in.
Click here to contact Speaker Boehner urging him to rescind his invitation to Netanyahu and reschedule the speech – by Netanyahu or whoever the next Israeli prime minister may be – for a future date. Even if you’re not a constituent, as Speaker of the House, it is critical that Boehner understand that Americans everywhere object to his action.