US House Speaker John Boehner made a politically calculated decision not to inform the White House of his invitation to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress, fearing US President Barack Obama would attempt to obstruct the speech, he said on Sunday.
Speaking to Fox News, Boehner said that Netanyahu's message on Iran was important for the American people to hear— and that the White House would prefer they not hear his position, which stands in opposition to the president's.
"I wanted to make sure that there was no interference," Boehner said, referring to the White House. "There’s no secret here in Washington about the animosity that this White House has for Prime Minister Netanyahu. I frankly didn’t want that getting in the way, quashing what I thought was a real opportunity."
The host of "Fox News Sunday," Chris Wallace, has been critical of the speaker's moves in the past, and asked Boehner if he has turned the critical issue of US-Israel relations into a political football.
"I have not," he said. "The fact is that we had every right to do what we did... I wanted the prime minister to come here."
Neither the White House nor State Department plan on receiving the prime minister when he arrives in March. Both have referred to the handling of the speech as "unusual," and say the proximity of his visit to Israel's elections rule make such meetings inappropriate.
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