Nearly two dozen US House Democrats on Thursday urged the postponement of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's planned speech to Congress, claiming the controversially-timed address could "undermine" nuclear negotiations with Iran, reports AFP.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu to address a joint meeting of Congress on March 3 two weeks before his country's elections, and the speech, in which the prime minister will discuss the threat of Iran's nuclear program, has led to an outcry from the left in the US and Israel.
Twenty-three lawmakers wrote Boehner urging him to postpone the invitation, which the Republican leader extended without taking the traditional step of consulting with the White House before inviting a head of state citing fears of "interference."
"As members of Congress who support Israel, we share concern that it appears that you are using a foreign leader as a political tool against the president," wrote the lawmakers led by Maxine Waters, top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee.
They said the timing and Boehner's "lack of coordination with the White House indicate that this is not an ordinary diplomatic visit. Rather this appears to be an attempt to promote new sanctions legislation against Iran that could undermine critical negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran."
The United States plus China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany are facing a March 31 deadline to reach a political deal with Iran, that in its current form would let the Islamic regime keep the ability to make nuclear bombs and in return have economic sanctions removed.
"Our relationship with Israel is too important to use as a pawn in political gamesmanship," the Democrats said. "We strongly urge you to postpone this invitation until Israelis have cast their ballots and the deadline for diplomatic negotiations with Iran has passed."
US Vice President Joe Biden will be a no-show, according to the White House, which has expressed opposition to the Netanyahu speech. Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders have also said they will not attend.
Just on Wednesday US President Barack Obama's administration admitted it is hiding details of the negotiations from Israel, to which Netanyahu quipped if the deal is not dangerous "what is there to hide here?"