US House Speaker John Boehner slammed US President Barack Obama’s “reprehensible” relations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday.
“I think the animosity exhibited by our administration toward the prime minister of Israel is reprehensible,” Boehner told CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“And I think the pressure they’ve put on him over the last four or five years have frankly pushed him to the point where he had to speak up,” added Boehner, who invited Netanyahu to address both houses of Congress on March 3, to the fury of the Obama White House.
The Republican leader’s accusations came as ties between Washington and Jerusalem have sunk to new lows in recent weeks over disagreements between Netanyahu and Obama regarding negotiations with Iran — the subject of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress — and peace efforts with the Palestinians.
Netanyahu was castigated by the Obama administration for saying, on the eve of Israel’s March 17 elections, that he would not allow a Palestinian state on his watch, drawing an American threat to reevaluate its approach to the peace process.
The White House rejected Netanyahu’s post-election clarification, in which he said he was not opposed to establishing a Palestinian state in principle, just not under current circumstances. He said he still supported a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution, but that the region was increasingly dangerous and that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was refusing to come to terms with Israel as a Jewish state.
The PM also apologized for Election Day remarks about Arab Israelis voting “in droves” — for which he was criticized at home and abroad, notably by Obama — saying he never meant to harm the feelings of the minority community.
Boehner defended Netanyahu’s stance on the establishment of a Palestinian state, maintaining Jerusalem had no partner in peace.
“How do you have a two-state solution when you don’t have a partner in that solution, when you don’t have a partner for peace, when you’ve got a — when the other state is vowing to wipe you off the face of the earth?” Boehner asked.
Despite the sour ties between Obama and Netanyahu, Boehner asserted that US-Israel relations have improved dramatically in the past few months, especially in the Republican-led Congress.
Boehner controversially invited Netanyahu to address Congress, where the prime minister urged lawmakers to thwart a nuclear deal between Iran and several world powers, which is backed firmly by Obama. The visit, which was not coordinated with administration officials, was said to greatly anger the White House, as Netanyahu was perceived by critics to be publicly undermining the president.
Boehner justified inviting Netanyahu, insisting on the importance of hearing a different view: “There are serious issues and activities going on in the Middle East, and I think it’s critically important for members of Congress to hear from foreign leaders, other governments, other parts of their government, to get a real handle on the challenges that we face there.”
Boehner is due to visit Israel later this week and meet with lawmakers in the Knesset. However, the speaker has no plans to address the governing body. “I don’t need all the fanfare,” Boehner said.