Everyone knows that the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu always gets what he wants, no matter the cost.
He attacked the Gaza Strip last summer, knowing it would bring bloodshed on both sides of the border. He announced more illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank even though a ceasefire had just come into effect. When the United Nations summoned him for war crimes, he simply refused because he believed he was right.
Now, Bibi is planning to come to the United States, despite the fact that President Barack Obama does not approve of it.
The visit is more controversial because Netanyahu wants to influence the Obama administration’s negotiations with Iran over that country’s nuclear program.
It all started when House Speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu to address a joint meeting of Congress in January soon after Obama had refused to meet the Israeli leader because he didn’t want to appear as too interfering in internal Israeli politics. (Bibi’s visit to Washington will come just two weeks ahead of Knesset elections).
Boehner was criticized – and rightly so – because his decision is a blatant breach of diplomatic protocol, not to mention incredibly demeaning to the president of the United States. However, he dismissed the widespread criticism, saying Congress has a “right” to hear from foreign leaders.
“The House of Representatives is a equal branch of the government, and we have a right to do it, and we did it,” the Ohio Republican said on Jan. 27. “And I’m frankly proud of the fact the prime minister has accepted our invitation, and will be here on March 3 to talk to the members of Congress about the serious threat that Iran poses, and the serious threat of radical Islam.”
Nearly two dozen congressional Democrats sent a letter to the House Speaker on Feb. 19, urging him to delay Netanyahu's address until after Israel's elections – but to no avail and why not. While Bibi is enjoying his newfound supremacy over POTUS, Boehner will also try his best to use the Israeli PM to settle his scores with Obama.
The GOP know how embarassing it could be for Obama if Netanyahu manages to overrule his word – and that, perhaps, is exactly what they want.
In order to defy Netanyahu’s diplomatic aggression, a coalition of civil society and human rights organizations has signed petitions to their members of Congress urging them to #SkipTheSpeech on March 3.
Mondoweiss – a news-centric blog co-edited by journalists Philip Weiss and Adam Horowitz – states:
“Constituent letters and petitions were delivered to 75 members of Congress who have either pledged to skip Netanyahu’s speech or have expressed hesitation about attending. In total, more than 37,000 people have sent more than 110,000 letters to members of Congress. An additional 20,000 people have signed a petition calling on members not to attend.”
More than 30 members have endorsed the initiative and more are expected to join in the coming days.