John Boehner to visit Israel after Netanyahu win

John Boehner to visit Israel after Netanyahu win

HomeUSPolitics Fri Mar 20, 2015 6:3PM

House Speaker John Boehner, who aggravated the White House for inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress about Iran earlier this month, plans to visit Israel sometime in the next two weeks, his office said.

“He looks forward to visiting the country, discussing our shared priorities for peace and security in the region, and further strengthening the bond between the United States and Israel,” spokesman Kevin Smith said in a statement on Friday.

The visit will follow Netanyahu’s victory in parliamentary elections this week which came two weeks after he addressed a joint session of Congress, warning lawmakers that the White House was negotiating “a very bad deal” with Iran.

The address, which was scolded by the White House and congressional Democrats, came in the midst of a crucial stage in nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 group – the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint session of Congress on March 3, 2015.

US President Barack Obama did not meet with Netanyahu while the prime minister was visiting Washington.

Boehner’s travel to Israel will begin March 31, and he will be leading a delegation of Republican lawmakers, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

The trip is expected to once again amplify partisan divide over Israel at a time when tensions between Obama and Netanyahu have already escalated because of the premier’s address to Congress and the “divisive rhetoric” he used in the run-up to Tuesday’s elections.

Netanyahu made opposition to nuclear negotiations with Iran a centerpiece of his reelection campaign. He also rejected the idea of a sovereign Palestinian state, which has been a key element of the Obama administration’s foreign policy in the Middle East.

The White House has raised the prospect of removing critical US diplomatic cover for Israel at the United Nations.

“Steps that the United States has taken at the United Nations had been predicated on this idea that the two-state solution is the best outcome,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Thursday.

“Now our ally in these talks has said that they are no longer committed to that solution. That means we need to reevaluate our position in this matter, and that is what we will do moving forward,” he added.