Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Tzachi Hanegbi suggested on Friday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had been misled into thinking an invitation to address the U.S. Congress on Iran next month was fully supported by the Democrats.
Netanyahu was invited by the Republican speaker of the house, John Boehner, to address Congress on March 3, an invitation Boehner originally described as bipartisan.
“It appears that the speaker of Congress made a move, in which we trusted, but which it ultimately became clear was a one-sided move and not a move by both sides,” Hanegbi told 102 FM Tel Aviv Radio on Friday.
The interviewer asked if that meant Netanyahu had been “misled” into believing Boehner’s invitation was bipartisan, a characterization Hanegbi did not contest.
Asked whether the prime minister should cancel or postpone the speech, Hanegbi said: “What would the outcome be then? The outcome would be that we forsake an arena in which there is a going to be a very dramatic decision [on Iran].”
Hanegbi said Netanyahu and Israeli emissaries were making “a huge effort to make clear to them that this is not a move that flouts the president of the United States.”
Yet Hanegbi said the address to Congress could help pass a bill, opposed by Obama, for new U.S. sanctions on Iran.
“The Republicans know, as the president has already made clear, that he will veto this legislation. So in order to pass legislation that overcomes the veto, two-thirds are required in the Senate. So if the prime minister can persuade another one or two or another three or four, this could have weight,” he said.
Meanwhile, a few days ago the New York Times made a little-noticed correction of its coverage: “An earlier version of this article misstated when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of Israel accepted Speaker John A. Boehner’s invitation to address Congress. He accepted after the administration had been informed of the invitation, not before.”
On Sunday, the Washington Post highlighted the correction and wondered aloud why it hasn’t garnered more attention.
“If the correction is correct, then we have a situation in which the administration was so grossly incompetent that it was circulating false information about Netanyahu from multiple spokespeople, or that it intentionally sought to undermine Netanyahu by lying about his alleged “breach of protocol.”