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Netanyahu’s invitation will harm US foreign policy: Democrats

5 February 2015 13:02

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A number of Democrats have declared that the Congress invitation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “has the potential to harm US foreign policy.”

In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner this week, the Democratic lawmakers called on Boehner to postpone Netanyahu’s speech about Iran until after nuclear negotiations are resolved.

“Aside from being improper, this places Israel, a close and valued ally, in the middle of a policy debate between Congress and the White House. We should not turn our diplomatic friendship into a partisan issue,” the letter reads.

“When the Israeli prime minister visits us outside the specter of partisan politics, we will be delighted and honored to greet him or her on the floor of the House.”

Reps. Maxine Waters of Los Angeles and Keith Ellison of Minnesota are collecting signatures for the letter.

Last month, 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 Democratic lawmakers criticized Boehner for inviting Netanyahu without consulting with the president.

The White House on Wednesday refused to announce whether Vice President Joe Biden would attend the address on March 3.

Senators Dianne Feinstein and Richard Durbin were among the Democrats who might not attend the session.

On Wednesday, several Jewish Democrats met with Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein met with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi about the issue.

Rep. Steve Israel said they met with Dermer “to defuse some of the optics over the prime minister’s speech to Congress and find ways to get back to the substance of the issue, rather than the style.”

“The timing of this and the Speaker’s decision not to consult with the president is distracting us from the important substance of the negotiations,” Rep. Israel said. “We need to be focusing on these negotiations.”

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