Democrat Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota says that she won't attend the speech by Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu because he was invited to address Congress as part of an effort to undermine President Barack Obama, and its really just a campaign stop.
The Minnesota Democrat wrote in an opinion piece for The Washington Post
Thursday that two weeks after his March 3 address, Netanyahu will be up for re-election, a fact also cited by Obama.
She contends that the goal of House Speaker John Boehner's invitation to Netanyahu was "to undermine the president while the United States and its five partners engage in tough negotiations with Iran to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons — a national security priority I strongly support.
"In other words, the speaker of the House [John Boehner] has provided the Israeli prime minister with a global platform to both attack our president and deliver a campaign message to voters at home," McCollum wrote.
Former Sen. Joseph Lierberman called on lawmakers to attend Netanyahu's address
to Congress in an opinion piece for the Post earlier in the month, saying that just like other world leaders who Congress has granted respectful attention, "so too does the prime minister of Israel deserve to be listened to respectfully."
While McCollum says that it's true that "respect is important . . . it should be reciprocal between allies."
To that end she says that Boehner and Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer, whom she described as "a former Republican operative who renounced his U.S. citizenship . . . ignored diplomatic protocol by failing to inform the White House of the Netanyahu invitation.
"Such an unprecedented lack of respect toward a U.S. president has not gone unnoticed in Israel, either," she wrote.
The Minnesota Democrat cited Israeli columnist Oudeh Basharat who, writing for Haaretz
, said that "any leader who tried to do to the Americans what Netanyahu has done would be ejected immediately, not from Washington but from office in his home country."
In addition, McCollum contends that Netanyahu's speech is nothing more than a "campaign rally," which she says shouldn't be held "on the floor of the U.S. House."
While McCollum said that Netanyahu's re-election is ultimately up to the Israelis, "in the meantime, I will respectfully abstain from attending Mr. Netanyahu's campaign rally."
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