Dozens of House Democrats are threatening to boycott Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 3 speech before a joint session of Congress, Politico reported Tuesday, another sign of how the speech is exacerbating partisan tensions over Israel.
The news outlet cited lawmakers and aides. Democrats are perturbed about House Speaker John Boehner and Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer planning the speech, which will address international negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, without consulting the Obama administration.
“I just don’t know if it’s the proper response or not,” Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) told Politico of a boycott. “But I just think it’s a mistake and it might be a proper protest. But I haven’t made that definite decision.”
Vice President Joe Biden hasn’t committed to attending, according to Politico. He would ordinarily sit beside Boehner as president of the Senate during a joint session of Congress.
The White House has already said that President Obama will not meet with Netanyahu during his visit to Washington, D.C., citing the Israeli elections two weeks later. Secretary of State John Kerry also will not meet with the prime minister.
A number of House Democrats have already drafted a letter urging Boehner to postpone the speech until after the Israeli elections and the current debate over new sanctions on Iran in Congress.