US Officials ‘Trying to Get Bibi to Cancel Congress Speech’

February 9, 2015  

A leftist journalist claimed on Monday that officials in Washington are trying to convince Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to shelve his Congress address scheduled for two weeks ahead of elections, and are offering an alternative instead.

Journalist Razi Barkai sai on Army Radio that the offer being made to Netanyahu is to call off the speech, and in its place hold a closed door meeting with Republican and Democratic leaders as well as the senior Congress committees.

According to the proposal, Netanyahu would speak as planned at the AIPAC annual conference that he is scheduled to appear at. He was invited to address Congress by House of Representatives Speaker Republican John Boehner, and had the date switched to fit with his AIPAC address.

Barkai claimed the initiative comes from both the Democrats and Republicans, saying they think the speech, which is meant to warn against a bad deal leaving Iran with nuclear capabilities, will somehow harm the struggle against the deal, and also harm relations between Israel and the US.

He added that the prime minister’s office has yet to comment on the proposal, saying “there’s no doubt that the trip to Washington will indeed occur. What will be in the trip? We don’t know yet.”

The unapologetically leftist journalist added that the contacts with Netanyahu are being carried out without the involvement of US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, who does not want to get personally involved in Israeli or American politics.

Army Radio published a survey along with the report, finding that a large majority of 63% of respondents were not affected by the Congress speech in terms of whether it would lead them to support Netanyahu in elections or not.

Nineteen percent said the speech reduces their likelihood of voting for him, while 12% said it increased the likelihood, and 6% said they hadn’t even heard that he was going to the Congress.

The same survey found 47% thought he should cancel the speech, 34% thought he shouldn’t cancel, and 19% didn’t know.

Leftists have launched a barrage against Netanyahu over the speech, claiming it is meant for political benefit and harms Israel’s security and relations with America.

Former President Shimon Peres, when he was prime minister for Herzog’s Labor 19 years ago, went to visit then US President Bill Clinton a mere month before elections, a move which Netanyahu as then opposition head strongly criticized.

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