US Democrats threaten not to attend Rabid Dog netanyahu’s Congress speech
Dozens of American lawmakers have threatened not to attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Iran speech at Congress to protest his visit to Washington next month.
POLITICO reported on Tuesday that lawmakers and aides said House Democrats are “privately threatening to skip” the address on March 3.
Last month, House Speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu to speak about imposing further sanctions against Iran at a joint session of Congress while Tehran and world powers are negotiating to reach a final nuclear agreement.
The invitation came despite President Barack Obama’s threats to veto new Iran sanctions legislation.
Netanyahu, who is against a comprehensive Iran nuclear accord, has been repeatedly trying to persuade congressmen to vote in favor of additional sanctions against Tehran.
The White House announced that Obama would not meet with Netanyahu in Washington next month.
A State Department official stated US Secretary of State John Kerry also would not meet with the Israeli leader, POLITICO reported.
US Vice President Joe Biden might also skip the speech and his office has not commented about his attention. Biden, who is the president of the Senate, should sit beside Boehner behind the podium for addresses by foreign leaders.
Many Democrats, including several Jewish members, are considering leaving some seats empty when Netanyahu is addressing Congress.
Rep. Steve Cohen said he has discussed with his colleagues not to attend the session.
“I just don’t know if it’s the proper response or not,” Cohen said. “But I just think it’s a mistake and it might be a proper protest. But I haven’t made that definite decision.”
“With his [Netanyahu’s] election being so soon, and with the negotiations we have going on with Iran, he’s put himself in a political situation here that’s probably adverse to the best interest of Israel,” he added.
Rep. John Yarmuth noted that he has not decided yet about attending the session.
“It wouldn’t be an official boycott. I wouldn’t announce that I wasn’t going. But I don’t really blame Netanyahu — although I’m not a fan of Netanyahu — but I don’t blame him for coming,” he said.
However, Boehner’s office reiterated that the speech would take place next month and Netanyahu can attend the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which is the powerful pro-Israel lobby.
Meanwhile, AIPAC supported the speech and encouraged all members of Congress to “attend this important speech.”