Israeli Prime Minister Is Coming to the United States to Visit Congress, Not Obama

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Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

During Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, President Obama threatened to veto any congressional effort to further sanction Iran, as the legislation would likely kill the administration’s ongoing negotiations over the Iranian government’s nuclear program. Unsurprisingly, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t like the idea of the United States reaching a deal with Iran — so in February, he’ll be coming to D.C. to talk to Congress about the dangers of Obama’s plan. House Speaker John Boehner invited him.

Boehner didn’t bother to consult the White House or the State Department before issuing an invitation to Netanyahu. “Instead, Boehner’s and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s staff coordinated with Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S.,” Politico reports. On Wednesday, Press Secretary John Earnest indicated that Netanyahu’s impending visit took the Executive Branch by surprise:

The typical protocol would suggest that the leader of a country would contact the leader of another country when he’s traveling there,” Earnest said during the president’s flight to Boise, Idaho. “That certainly is how President Obama’s trips are planned when he travels overseas. This particular event seems to be a departure from that protocol.”

Asked if Obama would meet with Netanyahu, Earnest said, “We haven’t heard from the Israelis directly about the trip.”

Congress can make this decision on its own. I don’t believe I’m poking anyone in the eye,” Boehner insisted while discussing the Netanyahu issue. “There is a serious threat that exists in the world, and the president last night kind of papered over it. And the fact is that there needs to be a more serious conversation in America about how serious the threat is from radical Islamic jihadists, and the threat posed by Iran.”

Drama aside, Netanyahu will probably feel pretty comfortable when he rolls up to Capitol Hill, where he enjoys support from Republicans and a not insignificant number of Democrats. At the very least, he won’t have to face anyone known to have called him "a chickenshit."