House Speaker John Boehner announced Wednesday he is inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress next month to discuss the threat from Iran, in a sharp rebuke to President Obama.
Such invitations typically are coordinated with the White House and State Department, but this one was not.
The House speaker’s office said Wednesday that Netanyahu is being invited to speak Feb. 11 before a joint session of Congress. The invitation follows President Obama’s vow Tuesday during his State of the Union address that he would veto bipartisan legislation to tee up more sanctions on Iran in case negotiations fail to get the rogue nation to curtail its nuclear enrichment program. A related bill also is being considered in a Senate committee hearing on Wednesday.
Boehner wants the Israeli leader to speak to the concerns regarding Iran.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu is a great friend of our country, and this invitation carries with it our unwavering commitment to the security and well-being of his people,” Boehner said in a statement. “In this time of challenge, I am asking the prime minister to address Congress on the grave threats radical Islam and Iran pose to our security and way of life.”
Critics of Obama and his foreign policy say the president has failed to keep close ties to Israel, a long-time U.S. ally and a key country in providing Middle East stability. Among their concerns is that the Obama administration has not done enough to curb Iran’s suspected pursuit of a nuclear weapon.
Boehner told members of the GOP House Conference on Wednesday morning: “The president warned us not to move ahead with sanctions on Iran, a state sponsor of terror. His exact message to us was: ‘Hold your fire.’ He expects us to stand idly by and do nothing while he cuts a bad deal with Iran. Two words: ‘Hell no’.”
He said: “Let’s send a clear message to the White House – and the world – about our commitment to Israel and our allies.”
The United States and five other world powers have reached a tentative deal with Iran. The countries are trying to reach a final deal by June 15.
If Netanyahu accepts the invitation, it would be his third appearance before a joint session of Congress and his second during Boehner’s speakership.
His previous addresses were in July 1996 and May 2011. Other Israeli prime ministers to address Congress include Ehud Olmert, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin, according to Boehner’s office.
Fox News’ Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.