Jewish Congressmen: Netanyahu Speech to Congress Turns Israel Into 'Political Football'

Seven reps. who consider themselves pro-Israel met Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer for a 'spirited' meeting to voice their concerns.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, with Ron Dermer in 2011.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, with Ron Dermer in 2011.Credit: GPO
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Seven Jewish Congressmen held a tense meeting with Israel's ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, on Wednesday and expressed their concern and dissatisfaction over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to arrange for himself an invitation from House Speaker John Boehner to address the Congress.

According to Politico, the seven - who consider themselves staunchly pro-Israel - criticized the decision and suggested that Netanyahu meet privately with American lawmakers instead of speaking publicly before Congress.

The meeting was "spirited," according to a statement by Rep. Steve Israel's office, where the meeting took place. The seven Congressmen told Dermer that the step could make Israel a partisan issue between Democrats and Republicans, forcing them to choose between Obama and Netanyahu.

“I organized the meeting with Ambassador Dermer, and I invited key Congressional Democratic supporters of Israel to attend,” Rep. Israel (D-NY) said, according to Politico. “There were a wide range of views that were discussed, but one thing we all agreed on emphatically is that Israel should never be used as a political football.”

In addition to Israel, the meeting was attended by Reps. Jerry Nadler, Nita Lowey of New York; Jan Schakowsky of Illinois; Sander Levin of Michigan; and Ted Deutch and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida. American-born Dermer has been Israel's envoy to the U.S. since 2013.

Netanyahu is slated to address the U.S. Congress next month on the issue of the nuclear talks with Iran. The invitation was extended by House Speaker John Boehner– and accepted by Netanyahu – without coordination with the White House, causing diplomatic tension between the two countries

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