The White House is red-hot angry over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to speak before the US Congress in March.
The invitation to address a joint session of Congress was issued by Republican House Speak John Boehner in what Obama officials say is “breach of protocol.” Usually, invitations are extended through the State Department via consultation with the White House.
Reminiscent of “Chickenshit-Gate,” US officials told Ha’aretz on Friday that the Israeli leader had “spat” in the president’s face in accepting the invitation.
“We thought we’ve seen everything,” an unnamed senior US official said. “But Bibi managed to surprise even us.”
“There are things you simply don’t do. He spat in our face publicly and that’s no way to behave. Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price,” he said.
The White House confirmed on Thursday that both the president and Secretary of State John Kerry will not meet with Netanyahu when he travels to Washington. A spokesman cited a “long-standing practice and principle” in which a president does not meet with heads of state close to election season.
Netanyahu is scheduled to address Congress on March 3. He was originally slated to appear before Congress on February 11 but changed the date so that he could attend the annual AIPAC conference.
President Obama threatened that he would veto the bill should it pass approval by US lawmakers. In his recent State of the Union address, he said that the bill would “all but guarantee that diplomacy fails.”