Boehner invites Israeli P.M. Netanyahu to speak to Congress without Obama’s approval

A Huffington Post/YouGov poll shows that most Americans think it was a breach of protocol for Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress without White House approval.

Nevertheless, 46 percent of Americans want their congressmen to attend the talk, and a majority thinks the President should meet with Netanyahu.

Democrats were more likely to call the invitation inappropriate, with 49 percent calling it such.

Voters are evenly split on whether Obama or congressional Republicans do a better job when it comes to U.S.-Israel relations.

The Prime Minister is scheduled to address Congress on March 3 in a discussion of Israel’s stance in the negotiations with Iran over their nuclear program.

The President has no plans to meet with him, and the Vice President is continuing with plans to be out of the country, L.A. Times reported.

Multiple congressional democrats have also said they will skip Netanyahu’s talk.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said more than 20 congressmen have signed a letter to Boehner urging the Speaker of the House to postpone until U.S. negotiations with Iran have come to an end, Huffington Post reported.

The controversy is driving a wedge between Israel and congressional Democrats, where in the past Israel has enjoyed bipartisan support on Capitol Hill.

Many Democrats feel Netanyahu’s visit is forcing them to choose between Israel and the President, L.A. Times reported.

Non-Jewish Democrats tend to be louder in their disapproval, but Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) said, “It is both sad and ridiculous that attending this speech will be used as a litmus test for support of Israel.”

Yarmuth also remarked that Netanyahu has many other forums wherein to express his opinion.

Rep. Eliot L. Engle, a Democrat from New York, holds another view.

“I’m mostly concerned about the U.S.- Israel relationship and that it remains strong and remains bipartisan,” Engle said. “The minute Israel becomes a partisan issue, then the U.S.-Israel relationship suffers,” L.A. Times reported.

Some of the congressmen who have already professed plans to skip Netanyahu’s talks see his visit as an attempt by Republicans to create tension between Democrats and Jewish-American voters and donors.

Seventy percent of Jewish-Americans are Democrats, and Obama earned 60 percent of the Jewish-American vote in 2012.

However, Netanyahu’s Likud Party has grown closer to the GOP recently, as they share similar ideologies and foreign policies, L.A. Times reported.

Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of the liberal pro-Israel group J-Street, said Boehner’s invitation exposed a split between progressive Jewish-Americans who agree more with the Labor Party of

Israel, and those in support of Netanyah in Israel and the GOP here. Ben-Ami said Boehner’s invitation “…has successfully exposed that that difference can no longer be papered over.”

The president has declined to advise his party one way or another.

An Israeli official has met with pro- Israel Democrats and expressed concern at how Netanyahu’s visit sparked a partisan dispute.

The prime minster tweeted that he is “determined” to go on with the visit, quelling suspicions that he may cancel due to pressure.

-Dionna Cheatham ’15, Junior Politics/Opinions Editor

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