Hatnuah party leader and former foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, and former finance minister, Yair Lapid, have accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of harming Israel's ties with the United States, and its security, to promote his political agenda.
"IDF soldiers are being dragged to The Hague for war crimes that they didn't commit. The only barrier preventing this is the U.S., which is helping Israel block this attack. This is why our ties with the U.S. are vital for Israel's security," Livni said.
Her criticism stemmed from Netanyahu's upcoming trip to the U.S. to deliver a speech to a joint sitting of Congress on March 3 – an invitation extended by Republican House Speaker John Boehner, and in violation of diplomatic protocol. It is the White House, not Congress, which usually invites world leaders to visit the country.
The invitation has been interpreted as an attempt by Netanyahu and his Republican allies to push through more Iran sanctions – a move that Obama has warned will damage the nuclear negotiations taking place with the Islamic Republic. Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Thursday that they will not meet Netanyahu during his U.S. trip because of the close proximity to the Israeli elections.
"Netanyahu is hurting relations with the U.S., Israel's security and its soldiers – and for what? For politics," she said. "Netanyahu loves to talk in English and receive applause, but when this is to the detriment of our ties with our biggest ally – which assists us in safeguarding our soldiers and our security – this is grave irresponsibility."
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid also pointedly criticized Netanyahu, saying that the prime minister is ruining Israel's strategic ties with the U.S. "for one election speech."
"The voice of Israel on the Iranian issue must be heard loud and clear, but in this case the opposite is the reality. If Netanyahu was concerned by the Iranian issue like he says, he would have acted differently and would have coordinated with the White House. This damage will take a long time to mend," Lapid said.
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