Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is coming to Washington D.C. whether the Obama White House likes it or not, and as Netanyahu’s visit nears, so too have tensions risen between the White House and John Boehner-led Republicans.
But John Kerry sought to downplay the ratcheted up politics being driven by Netanyahu’s pending speech to Congress, telling ABC’s This Week that the White House’s displeasure with Netanyahu’s invitation to speak before Congress stems from their not being included in the decision and that the visit inherently brings a lot of politics with it, reports ABC News.
“It was odd, if not unique, that we learned of it (Netanyahu’s visit) from the speaker of the House and that an administration was not included in this process,” said Kerry. “But the administration is not seeking to politicize this.”
John Kerry also emphasized in the interview that the Obama White House relationship with Netanyahu is fully functioning, and while Netanyahu is welcome to speak, the White House feels the timing is wrong and inappropriate.
“The prime minister of Israel is welcome to speak in the United States, obviously. I talk to the prime minister regularly, including yesterday… (But) we don’t want to see this turned into some great political football.”
The brouhaha between the Obama White House and the Boehner-led Republicans regarding Netanyahu’s visit began when the Obama administration learned that the Republicans were inviting Netanyahu regardless of their feelings on the matter. The elephant in the room is U.S. negotiations with Iran regarding nuclear weapons, Netanyahu and Obama holding differing views, and the upcoming March 17 Israeli elections, which may keep Netanyahu and his views in office.
Despite the Obama White House being openly angered by his visit, and opposing his views on Iran, Netanyahu was reportedly “brimming with confidence” as he took off from Israel for the U.S. on Sunday, telling reporters, in Hebrew, that the trip was a “crucial and even historical mission.”
“I feel I am representing all the citizens of Israel, even those who do not agree with me. I feel a deep and sincere concern for the safety of all the citizens of Israel and the fate of the state and the fate of our people. I will do everything in my power to secure our future.”
Meanwhile, Dianne Feinstein, a Democratic senator from California, was having none of Netanyahu’s enthusiasm on Sunday, discounting the Israeli Prime Minister’s feelings about Israeli citizens, Iran and its nuclear future on CNN’s State of the Union, reports the Washington Post.
“He doesn’t speak for me on this. I think it’s a rather arrogant statement. I think the Jewish community is like any other community. There are different points of view. I think that arrogance does not befit Israel, candidly.”
And as Netanyahu arrives in the U.S., John Kerry is heading to Switzerland in an attempt to button up an Obama White House-based nuclear deal with Iran.
[Image Pool via Getty Images]