Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has joined a growing list of Democrats who will boycott Tuesday’s congressional speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Warren will be among the eight senators and 47 House Democrats who will shun Netanyahu’s address, at which he’s expected to warn of the dangers to Israel imposed by a nuclear Iran.
In a statement, she denounced House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu to speak before Congress as partisan politics aimed at embarrassing President Barack Obama in the midst of delicate negotiations with the Islamic Republic to prevent the country from building weapons of mass destruction.
"I strongly support Israel, and I remain deeply concerned about the prospect of an Iranian nuclear weapon, which I discussed in detail with Prime Minister Netanyahu when we met in Jerusalem last November," Warren, a potential presidential candidate in 2016, told The Boston Globe
"It’s unfortunate that Speaker Boehner’s actions on the eve of a national election in Israel have made Tuesday’s event more political and less helpful for addressing the critical issue of nuclear nonproliferation and the safety of our most important ally in the Middle East."
Two Massachusetts representatives, Katherine Clark and Jim McGovern, both Democrats, also are planning to skip the event.
"Speaker Boehner has poisoned a critical foreign policy discussion with partisan gamesmanship," Clark said. "I will continue my full-throated support for Israel, but I will not be part of Speaker Boehner’s attempt to divide our Congress and country over one of our strongest allies."
The last-minute withdrawals came as Netanyahu and Secretary of State John Kerry endeavored to soften the burgeoning diplomatic crisis between the White House and the Israeli government.
Despite having warned that a nuclear Iran threatens Israel’s existence, Netanyahu said he has "great respect" for Obama, while Kerry insisted that the Israeli leader "is welcome to speak" in the U.S., Politico
Nevertheless, Vice President Joe Biden is traveling abroad and will miss the speech, while Obama will be the most notable absentee. Minnesota Sen. Al Franken is also on the list of planned no-shows.
"This has unfortunately become a partisan spectacle," Franken said Monday. "I’d be uncomfortable being part of an event that I don’t believe should be happening."
Democratic Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggett said he’s boycotting the speech because Netanyahu is "misguided" in his plans to "reject any reasonable nuclear agreement" with Iran, he told The Hill
Doggett added, "The only true alternative to an effective agreement is war with Iran. Scuttling nuclear negotiations with Iran would endanger every family in America and Israel."
Although many Democrats believe Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu without seeking approval from the White House was deliberately divisive, they also feel that the relationship between the U.S. and Israel is "too important" to both countries in the long run to turn their backs on Netanyahu, Politico reported.
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois says he is planning to attend the speech even though Netanyahu snubbed his invitation to speak privately to the Democratic caucus in Washington.
Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut has also revealed that he’ll attend the address, saying, "The speech is a mistake, but the relationship is too important."
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