Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said on Sunday he had no idea why Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s invitation to address Congress “has become such a fuss”.
Speaking to Channel 1 News, Giuliani, who is currently visiting Israel, noted that Netanyahu has addressed Congress before and added that it makes sense for him to do so again now, when Congress is discussing a possible deal with Iran over its nuclear program.
“The fact is the Prime Minister has addressed Congress before. He’s been invited to address Congress before,” Giuliani said. “What you should know is that right now Congress is holding hearings on Iran, so this would be the perfect time to ask him to come and speak, testify, whatever.”
“I think this is more their schedule than his schedule,” he added.
“In my own country, many people in my country support your Prime Minister’s position. I do,” Giuliani continued. “So does just about every member of my party which is the majority party in the Senate and the House, so my government is not just the President. It’s also the House of Representatives which is Republican, the Senate which is Republican, and a majority of members in both those houses support your Prime Minister’s position.”
The former New York Mayor pointed out that Israel has always been a non-partisan issue, but said he didn’t think that would change.
“I think it’s going to become more an issue for President Obama, because I think most people in his party support Israel, as do most if not all people in the Republican party,” he said.
Giuliani then stressed, “The people of Israel should understand: Despite whatever is going on between the President and the Prime Minister, the people of the United States support the State of Israel as our strongest ally in the Middle East, as one of our strongest allies in the world and as a country which shares a real burden in common with us, which is the threat of Islamic extremist terrorism. The majority of my people agree with that. Whether the President does or doesn’t is a separate matter.”
Netanyahu’s speech has become a point of contention in Israel-U.S. relations, after House Speaker John Boehner raised eyebrows two weeks ago when he announced that Netanyahu had accepted his invitation to address a rare joint session of Congress – an invitation extended without consulting Democratic leaders in Congress or the White House.
Boehner defended the action, saying Congress has every right, as a separate branch of government, to operate without the administration's input.
The White House originally gave an icy response to news that Netanyahu was invited to address Congress, saying it was a departure from diplomatic protocol. It later made clear that neither President Barack Obama nor Secretary of State John Kerry would meet Netanyahu while he is in Washington, explaining that American policy is not to meet foreign leaders on dates that are close to national elections in their countries.