A top Israeli opposition leader has slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s foreign policy, saying it is dragging Tel Aviv into crisis.
Hatnuah party leader Tzipi Livni accused Netanyahu of leading Tel Aviv to “crisis and diplomatic isolation,” amid mounting criticism of his handling of US relations.
The comments by the former justice minister and lead negotiator with Palestinians followed the White House’s announcement that Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama will not meet during the Israeli prime minister’s visit to address the US Congress in March.
Tel Aviv-Washington tensions on the rise
US House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday invited Netanyahu to address a joint session of the new Republican-controlled Congress in March, an invitation the White House called a “departure from protocol.”
An unnamed senior US official said Netanyahu “spat in our face” by accepting an invitation to address the US Congress without coordinating with Obama.
“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 official said on Friday.
The incident marks increased friction in the relationship between the Israeli prime minister and the Obama administration, partially over the perception that Bibi’s trip has been cooked up by him and the Republicans to pressure the White House over the issue of Iranian nuclear negotiations.
Obama has warned Netanyahu to stop encouraging US congressmen to pass new sanctions legislation against Iran.
The US president threatened to veto any Iran sanctions legislation during his State of the Union address on Tuesday.
Iran and the six world powers are in talks to secure a final full-blown deal over Tehran’s nuclear work.
Since the interim deal was agreed in Geneva in November 2013, the negotiating sides have missed two deadlines to ink a final agreement.
The two sides now seek to reach a high-level political agreement by March 1 and to confirm the full technical details of the accord by July 1.
During a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss city of Davos on Friday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said if the US Congress imposes fresh sanctions on Tehran, the Iranian parliament (Majlis) will retaliate by adopting a bill to further expand the country’s nuclear enrichment level.