House Speaker John Boehner said today he’s invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress next month, but the White House calls the invite a breach of protocol.
Typically, a foreign leader contacts the leader of the country when he plans to visit, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday, adding that the courtesy is “how President Obama’s trips are planned when he travels overseas.”
But the White House hadn’t heard from the Israelis about the trip and was only notified about Netanyahu this morning before Boehner’s announcement, Earnest said.
“This particular event seems to be a departure from that protocol,” he said.
Obama and Netanyahu have a famously frosty relationship, but Earnest said the two speak regularly, and he insisted the White House was not annoyed. But he said it would “reserve judgment” on the trip until it’s had an opportunity to speak to the Israelis about the visit.
Boehner’s invite comes as a rebuff to Obama, who in his State of the Union address Tuesday repeated his call for lawmakers to hold off on imposing new sanctions against Iran as negotiators continue talks on its nuclear program.
Netanyahu, who calls preventing Iran from securing a nuclear weapon “the greatest challenge” for Israel, has sharply criticized the negotiations as a “historic mistake” and said they’ve done nothing to roll back Tehran’s ability to produce a nuclear weapon.
Boehner said he’s invited Netanyahu to deliver his third address to a joint meeting of Congress on Feb. 11, saying the invite “carries with it our unwavering commitment to the security and well-being of his people.”