Both the United States and Israel denied a report in the Israeli media on Sunday evening that Israel will no longer receive updates on negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, allegedly a repercussion of the contentious Netanyahu address to Congress.
The White House, infuriated that the Israeli prime minister will be speaking to Congress in opposition to an emerging deal at a highly sensitive juncture, cut Israel out of the loop, according to the report.
Wendy Sherman, the under secretary of state for political affairs, who has been briefing Israeli officials, informed her counterparts in Yerushalayim that she would no longer do so, because Washington believes that Israel has misused the information for domestic Israeli political purposes.
The administration has also instructed Susan Rice, Washington’s ambassador to the United Nations, to cease communications with Netanyahu’s national security adviser, Yossi Cohen, according to the report.
Senior U.S. officials swiftly denied the story. They told The Jerusalem Post that nothing has changed regarding the policy of briefing Israel on the progress in negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.
“And Secretary [of State John] Kerry continues his conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu about this issue, as has always been the case,” they said.
The Prime Minister’s Office in Yerushalayim did not issue an outright denial. But it pointed out that the countries continue “deep strategic relations” and that Cohen is scheduled to meet with both Sherman and Rice at an upcoming conference in the U.S., which was corroborated by U.S. officials.
Earlier on Sunday, House Speaker John Boehner told Fox News that he deliberately circumvented the White House in making the invitation to Netanyahu because “I wanted to make sure that there was no interference.
“There’s no secret here in Washington about the animosity that this White House has for Prime Minister Netanyahu. I frankly didn’t want that getting in the way, quashing what I thought was a real opportunity.”
When asked if he hadn’t been guilty of turning the traditionally bipartisan U.S.-Israel into a Republican-Democratic political football, Boehner rejected the suggestion.
“I have not,” he said. “The fact is that we had every right to do what we did… I wanted the prime minister to come here.”