House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress about nuclear negotiations with Iran has created controversy, due to the fact that it was extended without the knowledge of the White House. Despite the lack of protocol, Netanyahu’s speech is scheduled to take place on Tuesday.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry appeared on ABC’s This Week on Sunday, and he said that the White House does not want to see Netanyahu’s visit turned into “some great political football.”
While Kerry said that Netanyahu is welcome to speak in the United States, he admitted that the fact that the negotiations surrounding the visit went through the speaker of the House, instead of the White House was odd.
“We don’t want to see this turned into some great political football,” Kerry said. “Obviously, it was odd, if not unique, that we learned of it from the speaker of the House and that an administration was not included in this process.”
Kerry maintained that the Obama administration was “not seeking to politicize” Netanyahu’s visit, and claimed that the U.S. and Israel have the same goal in mind, which is trying to “prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”
Regarding comments from Iran about whether Netanyahu’s speech serves Iran’s interests, Kerry said he is not going to play the game of “walking into a debate about Iranian propaganda with respect to this visit,” and he emphasized the “unparalleled close security relationship” the U.S. has with Israel.
On Sunday, House Speaker John Boehner appeared on CBS’s Face The Nation. Although he was the one who invited Netanyahu to address Congress without notifying the White House, Boehner claimed that it is the White House’s response that has hurt relations between the U.S. and Israel.
“What I do wonder is why the White House feels threatened because the Congress wants to support Israel and wants to hear what a trusted ally has to say,” Boehner said. “It has been, frankly, remarkable to me to – the extent to which, over the last five or six weeks, the White House has attacked the prime minister, attacked me for wanting to hear from one of our closest allies.”
On Saturday, Politico reported that the number of Democrats who have pledged to boycott Netanyahu’s speech has risen to 30, with many of the members coming from the Congressional Black Caucus and claiming that Netanyahu’s visit without Obama’s consent is both an insult and a breach of protocol.