VP Biden to Skip On Netanyahu’s Congressional Speech

Refraining from specifying his destination, the U.S. Vice President’s office announces Biden will not attend Israel’s PM’s address on March 3 because he will be abroad.

By The Associated Press


US Vice President Joe Biden will miss Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to a joint meeting of Congress, his office said on Friday. 

Netanyahu and Biden at a meeting in the White House – Archive Photo: Avi Ohayon/GPO

Biden’s office said he will be traveling abroad.

This will be the second time Biden has ever missed an address by a foreign leader to a joint session of Congress, according to Politico.

Netanyahu’s speech has angered the White House, which has had a tense relationship with the prime minister. Congressional Republican leaders coordinated the speech with the Israelis but did not consult with the Obama administration. The White House says that’s a breach of diplomatic protocol.

It was unclear where Biden would be traveling. His office says the trip was in the works before Netanyahu’s March 3 speech was announced.

As president of the Senate, the vice president typically attends joint meetings of Congress. The White House has said Biden missed one previous session in 2011 before of foreign travel.

Last week, US House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi suggested the speech could damage the Obama administration’s attempts to broker a deal with Iran on nuclear weapons development,. “Such a presentation could send the wrong message in terms of giving diplomacy a chance,” she said.

On Thursday, Pelosi said she was seriously considering attending the speech, but hoped it would not take place.

“I’m seriously considering going. As of now, it is my intention to go. It is still my hope that the event will not take place. There’s serious unease,” she told reporters.

US Vice President Joe Biden with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – Archive Photo: Haim Tzach/GPO

Also on Thursday, three prominent House Democrats vowed to skip the speech to Congress, saying they disapproved of House Speaker John Boehner’s decision to invite the Israeli leader without consulting President Barack Obama

Reps. John Lewis of Georgia, G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon said they would not attend.

On Wednesday, Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, met privately with seven Jewish Democrats to discuss the planned speech, and participants said some of the lawmakers urged the prime minister to postpone the speech or hold it somewhere other than Congress.


View original Ynet publication at: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4623826,00.html