Biden Won’t Attend Netanyahu’s Speech To Congress

Vice President Joe Biden meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the annual General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
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Vice President Joe Biden won’t attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress on Iran next month, the vice president’s office confirmed to TPM Friday. The news was first reported by the Associated Press.

Biden’s office said that the vice president, who ordinarily would sit alongside House Speaker John Boehner during a joint session of Congress, is expected to be traveling abroad.

“We are not ready to announce details of his trip yet, and normally our office wouldn’t announce this early,” the vice president’s office told TPM in an email, “but the planning process has been underway for a while.”

Boehner’s invitation for Netanyahu to speak, extended without consultation with the Obama administration, has been met with significant anger from Democrats.

The White House called it a breach of diplomatic protocol. President Barack Obama won’t meet with Netanyahu during his trip to Washington, D.C., with the White House citing the Israeli elections two weeks later.

Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer has been doing damage control with congressional Democrats, who have expressed their displeasure with how the invitation was handled, and some of whom have said that they will boycott the speech.

Israeli officials have indicated that they believe the prime minister’s speech could garner enough support for new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program to override Obama’s promised veto.

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