Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted Speaker Boehner’s invitation to address a joint meeting of Congress. In the days since, there have been questions regarding the nature and origin of the Speaker’s invitation.
A handful of media reports have claimed that the Israelis “orchestrated” the invitation. This is flat-out wrong. As Speaker Boehner has said, the Congress is a separate and co-equal branch of government. It was the Speaker’s right to invite the Prime Minister of Israel, and he did so for one reason and one reason only: so the Prime Minister could speak about one of the most important issues facing the Middle East and the world – the stakes regarding Iran.
In the interests of transparency, here is relevant background information that the Office of the Speaker has provided to the media:
- The process of inviting the Prime Minister was a coordinated effort between Speaker Boehner’s office and Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s office. Discussions began on the staff level late last year.
- On January 8, Speaker Boehner called Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer to gauge the Prime Minister’s interest in an invitation – and we were informed that the Prime Minister was open in principle to an invitation. The Speaker made it clear that it was his prerogative to inform the White House. We then went about identifying potential dates for an address.
- On the afternoon of January 20, the day of the State of the Union, we informed Ambassador Dermer of our intent to issue the invitation and our intent to notify the administration of the invitation. He accepted and acknowledged our intent to do so.
- On the morning of January 21, after notifying the administration, the Speaker issued the invitation to the Prime Minister and announced it to the public. “In this time of challenge,” Boehner said, “I am asking the Prime Minister to address Congress on the grave threats radical Islam and Iran pose to our security and way of life.”
- The Prime Minister graciously accepted the invitation and asked to speak on March 3, when he will already be in Washington for the AIPAC conference.
The Speaker and his team enjoy a strong working relationship with the Prime Minister, Ambassador, and their team, and we will continue to work together in the interests of peace and security.