White House Whines as Boehner Takes Initiative
In what Obama’s White House calls a “breach of protocol” John Boehner has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress, on February the 11th. Breaches of protocol similar to the prime minister of the United Kingdom lobbying U.S. senators in bid to stop new Iran sanctions? Who has more to lose if Iran develops a nuclear weapon, the UK or Israel?
The bid to vote on reinstating sanctions should Iran not come to an agreement is a bipartisan issue, with more than a few Democrats coming down on the side or reinstating sanctions.
House Speaker John Boehner is setting up his most dramatic foreign policy confrontation with President Barack Obama to date, inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak about Iran in front of a joint session of Congress on Feb. 11.
Netanyahu is a fierce opponent of the emerging U.S. nuclear agreement with the Islamic republic, and has served as Obama’s foil, of sorts, as the negotiations have progressed. And his visit to Washington seems mostly for optics: When it comes to Iran, many Republicans and Democrats in the Capitol seem more closely aligned with Netanyahu than with Obama. The Israeli leader has already addressed Congress twice. In 2011, he received a raucous welcome typically reserved for an American president.
Netanyahu’s speech could present a spectacle rarely seen in Washington — the leader of another nation, standing just blocks from the White House at the invitation of Congress to rebut the United States’ foreign policy.
In fact, Boehner did not consult with the White House or the State Department about inviting Netanyahu — a snub that White House spokesman Josh Earnest called “a departure” from protocol. Instead, Boehner’s and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s staff coordinated with Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S.
Earnest told reporters that the White House learned of the invitation Wednesday morning before Boehner’s announcement.
“The typical protocol would suggest that the leader of a country would contact the leader of another country when he’s traveling there,” Earnest said during the president’s flight to Boise, Idaho. “That certainly is how President Obama’s trips are planned when he travels overseas. This particular event seems to be a departure from that protocol.”
Asked if Obama would meet with Netanyahu, Earnest said, “We haven’t heard from the Israelis directly about the trip.”