House Democrats Urge Boehner To Postpone Netanyahu’s Speech

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio looks on at right as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes a statement on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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A trio of House Democrats plan to send a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), pressing him to postpone an upcoming speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom Boehner invited to speak on Iran without consulting the White House.

“We write to urge you to postpone your invitation to Prime Minister Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress in March,” the draft letter said.

Reps. Keith Ellison (D-MN), Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Maxine Waters (D-CA) are circulating the letter, as Politico first reported.

“The timing of this invitation and lack of coordination with the White House indicate that this is not an ordinary diplomatic visit,” they wrote. “Rather this appears to be an attempt to promote new sanctions legislation against Iran that could undermine critical negotiations.”

The Democrats noted that President Barack Obama had already pledged to veto new sanctions against Iran, warning it could undermine negotiations, while Netanyahu and congressional Republicans have been frequent critics of the international talks over the country’s nuclear program.

“As members of Congress who support Israel, we share concerns that it appears that you are using a foreign leader as a political tool against the president,” they continued. “We should not turn our diplomatic friendship into a partisan issue. Beyond threatening our diplomatic priorities, the timing of this invitation offers the Congressional platform to elevate a candidate in a foreign election.”

The White House has already said that Obama will not meet with Netanyahu when he comes to speak to Congress on March 3, citing the Israeli elections two weeks later. Some Senate Democrats who had previously backed new sanction legislation have also softened their position since the Boehner invitation.

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