Tags: US | diplomacy | Israel | Iran | Biden | Netanyahu

Biden to Snub Netanyahu, Skip Speech to Congress: Official

Image: Biden to Snub Netanyahu, Skip Speech to Congress: Official
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Friday, 06 Feb 2015 02:20 PM

Vice President Joe Biden will not attend a controversial speech Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to make to Congress next month, in a new White House snub of the Israeli prime minister.

"The Vice President's office expects that the Vice President will be traveling abroad during the joint session of Congress," an official said.

As president of the Senate, Biden would be expected to attend any joint meeting.

Eight foreign leaders have addressed a joint meeting of Congress since Biden became vice president in 2009. He has attended all but one, that of then Australian prime minister Julia Gillard in 2011.

Obama has said he will not meet Netanyahu during his visit, which comes a few weeks before the prime minister seeks re-election. The speech before Congress is expected on March 3.

It is a "matter of long-standing practice and principle" that the president does not meet foreign leaders engaged in an electoral campaign, the White House has said.

But Obama had also been irked by the subject of Netanyahu's speech, Iran.

Obama's allies fear the trip could be used by Israel and by Republicans, who control Congress and issued the invitation, to undercut nuclear talks with Tehran just as they appear poised to bear fruit.

The West and Israel accuse the Islamic republic of trying to build a nuclear bomb, a charge it denies.

Democrats have suggested they may boycott Netanyahu's address, prompting Israel to launch a diplomatic charm offensive, dispatching Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer and Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein in an effort to convince members of Obama's party to attend.

On Wednesday, a spokesman for House Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi expressed concern that "casting a political apple of discord into the relationship is not the best way forward given the formidable challenges our two countries are facing together."

© AFP 2017

 
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Vice President Joe Biden will not attend a controversial speech Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to make to Congress next month, in a new snub to the Israeli leader. The Vice President's office expects that the Vice President will be traveling abroad...
US, diplomacy, Israel, Iran, Biden, Netanyahu
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2015-20-06
Friday, 06 Feb 2015 02:20 PM
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