White House official: Netanyahu ‘spat in our face’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
President Barack Obama and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have had bad chemistry.

A senior US official says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “spat in our face” by accepting an invitation to address the US Congress without coordinating with President Barack Obama.

“There are things you simply don’t do. He spat in our face publicly and that’s no way to behave,” the unnamed senior US official told Haaretz newspaper.

"Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price," the official said.

US House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday invited Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress next month, an invitation the White House called a “departure from protocol.”

Hours after Obama threatened to veto any Iran sanctions legislation during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Boehner said he had invited Netanyahu to address the issue.

The White House announced Thursday that Netanyahu and Obama will not meet because of Israel’s upcoming elections.

This latest “spat” has plunged an already tense relationship between Obama and Netanyahu to a new low. The two have never made a secret of their mutual dislike.

Analysts say Netanyahu has destroyed the interpersonal channel with Obama and created an unprecedented rift in their relations.

Obama has also warned Netanyahu to stop encouraging US congressmen to pass new sanctions legislation against Iran.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said imposing new sanctions against Iran “would be like throwing a grenade into the [nuclear negotiation] process," citing a top intelligence official.

Kerry was referring to the nuclear talks that are underway between Iran and the P5+1 group -- the US, Britain, China, France, Russia, and Germany-- aimed at putting an end to the 12-year-old dispute over Tehran’s peaceful nuclear activities.


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