A “bipartisan” invite to Benjamin Netanyahu to address the US Congress was given by Republicans only, without consultation with Democrats or President Obama.
That’s the assessment of senior White House officials angry with the Israeli prime minister, who is widely expected to call for more sanctions against Iran.
Republican John Boehner, the Speaker of the US Congress, invited Netanyahu to speak just two weeks before an Israeli election in which he is seeking to cast himself as the protector-in-chief of the Jewish state.
His acceptance is being seen as a direct repudiation to President Obama, who had asked him not to get involved in the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran, which last year agreed to stop enrichment and partially scale back its programme.
“We thought we’d seen everything, but Bibi surprised even us” a senior aide told Ha’aretz. “There are things you don’t do. He spat in our face publicly. That’s no way to behave. Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price.”
The invite comes less than a month after a new-look, Republican-majority Congress was sworn in, and Netanyahu this week defended his decision to go.
“As prime minister of Israel, I am obligated to make every effort to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weaponry that will be aimed at the state of Israel,” he said. “This effort is global and I will go anywhere I am invited to make the state of Israel’s case and defend its future and existence.”