House Speaker John Boehner has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before a joint session of Congress on “the grave threats radical Islam and Iran," prompting a rebuke from the White House over a "breach of protocol."
The Republican House leader said in a statement that the invitation to speak is also intended to be a symbol of the Washington's “unwavering commitment” to the safety and security of Israel.
"Americans and Israelis have always stood together in shared cause and common ideals, and now we must rise to the moment again," he said.
Netanyahu accepted Boehner's invitation and will address Congress on March 3rd. Boehner said on Twitter that he had originally invited Netanyahu to speak on Feb. 11, but the Israeli leader asked to move it to March so he could attend a conference in D.C.
"I look forward to being able to share with the joint session Israel's vision for working together to address these threats and to reiterate Israel's commitment to the bond that unites our two democracies," Netanyahu said in a statement.
Boehner's invitation came a day after President Obama said he will veto any new sanctions on Iran in his State of the Union address.
"But new sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails — alienating America from its allies; and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again," Obama said. "It doesn't make sense. That is why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress."
Obama will not meet with Netanyahu when he is in D.C. for his address, the White House confirmed. The administration said the decision is in line with prior practice of not meeting with foreign leaders close to when their country holds elections. Israel is holding elections in March.
Boehner said in a Wednesday press conference that he did not consult Obama before sending the invite to Netanyahu, but that he didn't believe he was "poking anyone in the eye."
He said that the threat from Iran and Islamic extremists is "serious," but in his address Obama "papered over it."
However the White House criticized the invitation as a breach of the protocol for when world leaders visit the U.S.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that usually leaders inform the White House before planning a trip to the U.S. He said the administration will decide a course of action after speaking with the Israelis about what Netanyahu will say in his address, the Associated Press reported.
The State Department also expressed displeasure, with spokesperson Jen Psaki telling reporters "traditionally" the administration would be informed by the world leader directly about a visit.
Netanyahu has addressed a joint meeting of Congress twice before, once in 1996 and once in 2011.
He is the latest among many former Israeli prime ministers to address Congress, including Ehud Olmert, Shimon Peres, and Yitzhak Rabin.