Poll: Most Americans Oppose Republican Invite of Netanyahu

February 17, 2015  

A large majority of Americans believe that Republican congressional leaders should not have invited Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress without consulting the White House, a new CNN/ORC survey release on Tuesday found.

The poll found that 63% of Americans believe it was a bad move for congressional leadership to extend the invitation without giving President Barack Obama a heads up that it was coming.

Only 33% said the Republican move was the right thing to do.

The speech has become a point of contention between Republicans and Democrats. Obama’s allies fear the trip could be used by Israel and by Republicans to undercut ongoing nuclear talks with Iran.

The White House has made clear that neither Obama nor Secretary of State John Kerry would meet Netanyahu while he is in Washington, explaining that American policy is not to meet foreign leaders on dates that are close to national elections in their countries.

Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, has announced that he will be travelling abroad during the joint session of Congress and will not be present when Netanyahu gives his speech.

House Speaker John Boehner, who extended the invitation to Netanyahu, explained on Sunday that he felt it was important to do an end-run around White House “interference,” amid a raging debate over whether to soften sanctions on Tehran.

“I wanted to make sure that there was no interference,” he said about his decision to issue the invitation to the Israeli leader.

“There’s no secret here in Washington about the animosity that this White House has for Prime Minister Netanyahu,” Boehner added. “Frankly, I didn’t want them getting in the way.”

“It’s an important message that the American people need to hear,” Boehner, the top House Republican, added.

Meanwhile, the CNN poll from Tuesday also found that Americans overall believe the United States should stay out of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with 66% advocating the U.S. remain neutral. Of those who do support picking a side, the majority, 29%, back Israel, while only 2% support the Palestinian Authority.

Even Republicans, typically seen as the party offering the strongest defense of Israel, are split on whether the U.S. should officially support Israel in the conflict. 49% percent support backing Israel, while 47% say the U.S. should stay out of it.

The survey was conducted among 1,027 adult Americans from February 12-15 and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

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