WASHINGTON – Almost two dozen liberal Democrats on Thursday asked the Republican leader of the U.S. House of Representatives to postpone Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to a joint meeting of Congress next month.
“It appears that you are using a foreign leader as a political tool against the President,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Speaker John Boehner.
Netanyahu’s speech is controversial because it comes as the Obama administration is negotiating with Iran over that country’s nuclear program — negotiations that Netanyahu says could put Israel at risk. The speech is also set just two weeks before Netanyahu faces voters at home for re-election.
Republicans are pushing tougher sanctions on Tehran. Boehner did not consult with the White House before inviting Netanyahu.
“This appears to be an attempt to promote new sanctions legislation against Iran that could undermine critical negotiations,” the Democrats wrote.
Generally speaking, the 23 lawmakers who signed the letter are among the most left-leaning Democrats, representing 12 percent of their party’s House membership.
“Support for the State of Israel in Congress has always been bipartisan, and it should remain so,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said.