Rice: Netanyahu’s Congress address destructive to US-Israeli relations
Wed Feb 25, 2015 9:50AM
Susan Rice speaks at the Brookings Institution on Feb. 6, 2015, in Washington
A top American official has blasted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for deciding to address Congress, saying the planned visit is destructive to relations between the US and Israel.
President Barack Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice said the decision has “injected a degree of partisanship, which is not only unfortunate, I think it’s destructive of the fabric of the relationship.”
She criticized the Israeli leader in an interview with PBS television on Tuesday.
Netanyahu will address a joint meeting of Congress next week in order to put pressure on US officials to stop a comprehensive nuclear agreement between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu once again defended his trip to Washington, saying he would do everything to prevent a nuclear deal with Iran.
"It is my obligation as prime minister to do everything that I can to prevent this agreement. Therefore, I will go to Washington... because the American Congress is likely to be the final brake before the agreement," he said.
In a strong public rebuke on Tuesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry criticized those officials who are speaking against a potential nuclear agreement.
“Anybody running around right now, jumping in to say well we don’t like the deal, or this or that, doesn’t know what the deal is,” Kerry said.
Senator: Netanyahu's private meeting refusal 'disappointing'
Democratic Senator Richard Durbin said he is disappointed by Netanyahu after he refused to meet with a number of Democrats in a private session.
Two high-ranking Senate Democrats invited Netanyahu for a separate closed-door meeting, but he turned down the request.
“We offered the prime minister an opportunity to balance the politically divisive invitation from Speaker [John] Boehner with a private meeting with Democrats who are committed to keeping the bipartisan support of Israel strong,” Durbin said in a statement Tuesday.
“His refusal to meet is disappointing to those of us who have stood by Israel for decades,” he added.
President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and John Kerry would not meet with the Israeli leader during his next month’s trip.
A number of Democrats announced that they would skip the controversial speech.
Democratic Representatives James Clyburn of South Carolina, Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, John Lewis of Georgia, G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, and Steve Cohen of Tennessee are among them.