Senators May Boycott Netanyahu’s Congress Speech

Several Democratic senators said Wednesday that they are considering boycotting Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's upcoming speech before Congress, CNN reported. 

The Senators wish to protest House of Representatives' Speaker, Republican John Boehner, for disregarding United States protocol and inviting Netanyahu without the White House's knowledge or involvement. 

"Colleagues of mine are very concerned about it and I'm troubled by it. I won't name names, of course," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois. "It's a serious mistake by the speaker and the prime minister. The relationship between Israel and the United States has been so strong, so bipartisan."

Durbin said he had not yet decided whether to attend the March 3 speech, in which Netanyahu is expected to criticize the West's nuclear weapons negotiations with Iran. 

"One of my closest friends – one of the strongest supporters of Israel – described this Boehner tactic as a disaster, a terrible disaster for Israel," Durbin added.

"I won't speak for any other members but they've been talking to me about what is the right way to react to what could turn out to be a divisive event."

Other Democratic Senators are equivocating on whether to attend, while still others, such as Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, made clear they would not. 

There have even been discussions of a mass boycott, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California said. 

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, however, argued it would be a mistake for Democrats to skip out on the speech. 

"I think that would not be appropriate treatment of the prime minister of Israel, and I'm sure they can respond to their constituents as to why they would do that," he said.

"The overriding reason he was invited is because of our concerns with the negotiation with Iran, which will then allow Iran to become a nuclear power," McCain continued. 

"There is not confidence on the part of Republicans in the negotiations that are going on. We believe they've already given away, in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, too much. That's why we want to hear from Prime Minister Netanyahu."

The speech, announced several weeks ago, continues to be divisive and controversial, not only in Israel, but also in the United States, especially among the two branches of Congress. 

Letters have circulated in the House of Representatives from member of each party.

The Democratic letter acknowledges support for the Netanyahu speech, but calls for it to be postponed until after Israeli elections in mid-march. The Republican letter, however, shows unwavering support for Boehner's decision. 

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota, who co-authored the letter urging Boehner to reschedule the speech, said "this is not about the prime minister, this is about the speaker."

"We shouldn't be interfering in a foreign election – which we are doing – and we certainly shouldn't be inviting a foreign leader from Canada, Palau, Peru or Israel to rebut our President on a foreign policy matter."

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in response to the reports of boycotts that lawmakers would have to decide for themselves whether to come to Netanyahu's speech, based on their schedules and their personal considerations.

"The President believes that individual members of Congress ought to decide for themselves. That's certainly appropriate," he said, adding "the President believes that it is important for us to ensure that the Israeli-US relationship does not get reduced to partisan politics." 

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/190957

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *