Netanyahu speech to Congress postponed three weeks

Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress was postponed for three weeks.

The move to March 3 from Feb. 11 allows Netanyahu to coordinate with his plans to address the annual AIPAC conference in Washington.

“At his request, PM ‪@Netanyahu of ‪#Israel will now address joint mtg of Congress on March 3 so he can attend ‪@AIPAC conference in DC,” Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, said Thursday on Twitter. Boehner invited Netanyahu to address both houses of Congress.

The American Israel Public Affairs annual policy conference runs March 1-3.

Boehner said he wants Netanyahu to speak in part to counter what he says is President Barack Obama’s inadequate policies for dealing with radical Islamists and with the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran.

Republicans in Congress, with some Democratic support and with strong AIPAC backing, want to pass new Iran sanctions. Obama, backed by prominent Democrats, said he will veto new sanctions, saying they could scuttle nuclear talks with Iran now underway.

The White House said Netanyahu’s acceptance of the Boehner invitation was a departure from protocol in which heads of state clear official visits with one another.

Netanyahu is also facing domestic criticism for the visit, which is taking place just two weeks before March 17 elections in Israel.