United States Vice President Joe Biden will skip out on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before Congress, in what is the latest snub by the Obama administration against the Israeli leader.
“The Vice President’s office expects that the vice president will be traveling abroad during the joint session of Congress,” a US official stated.
The announcement is the latest blow against Netanyahu, who has been facing increasing criticism and pressure to cancel his speech.
One of the responsibilities of the vice president is, as president of the Senate, to attend joint sessions of Congress. In order to get the White House out of an awkward bind of not wanting to support Netanyahu’s speech, which is slated for March 3, Biden has planned an overseas trip during the prime minister’s expected visit to Washington.
While it has yet to be revealed exactly where the vice president will be traveling, his office claims that the trip was in the works before Netanyahu’s trip was announced. The only other time Biden has ever missed a join meeting of Congress was in 2011, when an overseas trip conflicted with Australian Prime minister Julia Gillard’s address.
The White House has accused Republicans in Congress and Netanyahu of breaching protocol by arranging a speech to Congress without the blessing of the White House.
Despite what Obama officials have been saying, it was revealed that the White House knew ahead of time of the Netanyahu invitation, before it was issued to the prime minister.
Along with Biden, some 40 Democratic lawmakers are expected to boycott Netanyahu’s speech as well.
On Thursday, the prime minister stated that despite pressure to cancel his address, he has an “obligation as the prime minister of Israel to speak out against the danger of a nuclear agreement with Iran, and to do everything I can to prevent it.”