NYT Slams Republicans for Inviting Netanyahu to Address Congress

Editorial criticizes House Speaker Boehner, allies' 'breach of sense and diplomacy,' saying congressional passage of new sanctions could lead to all-out war with Islamic Republic.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a joint meeting of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., May 24, 2011.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a joint meeting of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., May 24, 2011.Credit: AFP

The New York Times has come out strongly against Congressional Republicans' invitation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress, and their attempt to undermine President Barack Obama's Iran policy.

In a pointed editorial, the newspaper lambasts House Speaker John Boehner and Israeli ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer's collusion in inviting the Israeli leader to address both houses of Congress as a "breach of sense and diplomacy," saying that it is the White House, not Congress, which arranges visits of world leader to the U.S.

On Iran – which is expected to be the focus of Netanyahu's address – The Times cautions that congressional attempts to pass legislation proposing new sanctions against Iran – a legislative move opposed by Obama – could destroy talks currently being conducted with the Islamic Republic on peacefully resolving the nuclear crisis.

And while Obama can veto any Congressional legislation that calls for new sanctions, the Times argues that "given an excuse to withdraw from talks, Iran could accelerate its nuclear program, curbed for a year under an interim agreement, and force the United States or Israel to use military action or a cyberattack to keep Tehran from producing nuclear weapons."

The Republican attempt to circumvent Obama is seen as an exercise in domestic politics, as well: "Republicans apparently see value in trying to sabotage any possible success for Mr. Obama, even if it harms American interests," the newspaper argues.

Despite tensions over the Iranian issue, the editorial says that there is no doubt that Obama will "maintain America's security commitments to Israel." However, Netanyahu's "hostile attempt to lobby Congress to enact more sanctions against Iran" – and pre-election efforts to use his Washington speech to "bolster his standing as a leader capable of keeping Israel safe" in the eyes of his voters back home – will further damage the bilateral relationship.

"Can Mr. Netanyahu really afford to dismiss" its allies, the editorial asks in conclusion – referring specifically to the Palestinians' International Criminal Court bid.

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