Report: US officials warn breach of protocol could have consequences for Netanyahu

No indication of Netanyahu's visit or even the invitation by US house speaker John Boehner was mentioned in a recent meeting with the Israeli ambassador, a US source says.

January 23, 2015 08:27
1 minute read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu watches IDF maneuvers from an army base near Beersheba. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Following Wednesday's announcement that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been invited to speak to Congress about Iran without first consulting President Barack Obama's administration, US sources warned Thursday that the breach of protocol could have lasting effects for the Israeli premier, according to The Washington Post.

"Neither [Speaker of the House of Representatives John] Boehner nor Netanyahu gave the administration any notice of his planned visit, and some US officials were warning that the breach of traditional diplomatic protocol could have lasting consequences for the Israeli leader," The Washington Post reported.

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“The bilateral relationship [between Israel and the US] is unshakable,” the newspaper quoted a source close to Kerry as saying. “But playing politics with that relationship could blunt Secretary Kerry’s enthusiasm for being Israel’s primary defender.”

According to the report, the Israeli ambassador to the US had a meeting with Kerry for more than two hours on Tuesday, saying that Boehner's invitation was not mentioned, nor was Netanyahu's prospective visit. “The secretary’s patience is not infinite,” said the source close to Kerry, who requested to speak anonymously.

On Thursday, fuming Democrats accused Republican of breaking protocol by inviting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress without consulting them, challenging Israel's assertion that the invitation was extended by both US political parties.

Netanyahu's government issued a statement on Thursday saying the invitation had been extended by the "two-party leadership" of Congress, but congressional aides said they knew of no members of the party who had been consulted.

Furthermore, US President Barack Obama will not meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his upcoming visit to Washington, now rescheduled from February to March, citing “the proximity to the Israeli election.”

“As a matter of long-standing practice and principle, we do not see heads of state or candidates in close proximity to their elections so as to avoid the appearance of influencing a democratic election in a foreign country,” National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said Thursday.

US Secretary of State John Kerry would also not hold talks with Netanyahu, the State Department said.

Herb Keinon, Michael Wilner and Reuters contributed to this report.

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