US Lawmakers Want Delay in Netanyahu Speech

US Lawmakers Want Delay in Netanyahu SpeechUS Lawmakers Want Delay in Netanyahu Speech

A group of 23 lawmakers urged House Speaker John Boehner to postpone Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming speech to a joint session of Congress.

In a letter, the lawmakers argued that Boehner is using the Israeli leader as a “political tool” against US President Barack Obama, World Bulletin reported.

“We strongly urge you to postpone this invitation until Israelis have cast their ballots and the deadline for diplomatic negotiations with Iran has passed,” the lawmakers wrote. “The timing of this invitation and lack of coordination with the White House indicate that this is not an ordinary diplomatic visit,” they wrote.

Netanyahu is expected to use the March 3 congressional address to marshal opposition against US and international efforts to broker a nuclear deal with Iran ahead of an end of March deadline for negotiations.

“Aside from being improper, this places Israel, a close and valued ally, in the middle of a policy debate between Congress and the White House. We should not turn our diplomatic friendship into a partisan issue,” the lawmakers wrote.

Neither Obama nor Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with Netanyahu during his trip to Washington, citing the proximity to Israel’s March 17 elections. Twenty nine members of Congress will reportedly not attend Netanyahu’s address.

Netanyahu has addressed Congress twice before – first in 1996 and more recently in 2011.