Report: More Than Half of Congress' Jewish Democrats Plan to Attend Netanyahu Speech

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U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden (r) administers oath of office to Sen. Brian Schatz, Democrat of Hawaii, on December 2, 2014, in Washington. Both have said they won't attend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to Congress, set for March 3, 2015.Credit: Associated Press

More than half the 27 Jewish Democrats in the U.S. Congress plan to attend the March 3 address to Congress by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a Washington website reports.

Some of the Jewish Democrats told that they are going reluctantly while two senators, Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Bernie Sanders – a Vermont independent who caucuses with the Democrats – told the site they won't go.

Netanyahu's speech has caused controversy and strain between Jerusalem and Washington because it was arranged by Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer and House Speaker John Boehner, the Ohio Republican, without coordination with President Barack Obama.

But Israel's premier has said he is determined to go through with the speech and warn the world of the dangers inherent in a nuclear deal with Iran.

“I’m deeply troubled that politics has been injected into this enduring relationship that has always been above politics, but I plan to go,” Senator Barbara Boxer, the California Democrat, was quoted by TheHill as saying.

Last week, the site reported, six prominent Jewish House Democrats met with Dermer to complain about how the speech arrangements were handled.

More generally, a number of prominent legislators and legislative groups have said they won't attend the speech.

The Congressional Black Caucus has said it will skip the speech because the way it was handled was disrespectful of the president.

Vice President Joseph Biden, who sits as president of the Senate, has said he won't attend the speech because of prior commitments.

And on Tuesday, Patrick Leahy, the seven-term Vermont Democrat who is the longest serving senator, said he wouldn't go.