House Speaker John Boehner's invitation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before Congress on Iran is an unprecedented rebuke of President Barack Obama as he and Congress are preparing for a battle over Iran sanctions, experts told TPM.
The move came the day after Obama threatened in his State of the Union address to veto legislation putting new sanctions on Iran. He warned that new sanctions by Congress would disrupt the negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR)acknowledged the week before that ending negotiations "is very much an intended consequence" of a new sanctions bill that has been put forward with some Democratic support.
Although the US and Israel maintain a "special relationship," the discord between the Obama administration and Netanyahu's government has been well documented. Netanyahu welcomed 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in a visit Israel in the midst of the campaign. And anonymous Obama administration officials have been quoted calling the Israeli prime minster "a chickenshit."
But even with that context, experts on American-Israeli relations expressed shock that Boehner had invited Netanyahu to address Congress on Iran next month. One described it as an effort to "humiliate" and "embarrass" Obama as the two sides dig in over Iran. The invitation from the Ohio Republican positions Congress, rather than the White House, as Israel's ally.
"It's unprecedented. It's hitting below the belt. It's taking partisanship to a whole new level," Guy Ziv, a professor at American University who has studied U.S.-Israeli relations, told TPM. "It is a way for them to embarrass and humiliate the Obama administration."
Bonus points if you can name any other country whose head of state would be allowed to speak to Congress to expressly chastise a sitting president's foreign policy.
Go ahead, I'll wait.
PS, the reason this is an unprecedented show of disrespect is the obvious difference between Obama and the previous 43 presidents.