NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There has been heated disagreement among some New York congressmen over whether to boycott Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial address in Washington next month.
As CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Wednesday, some are calling it high-stakes political sniping.
Two Democrats shared passionate — and opposing — views on whether to be in the audience when Netanyahu addresses Congress about U.S. efforts to broker a deal with Iran over its nuclear weapons program.
“I will not be attending. I think that Speaker (John) Boehner is trying to utilize the floor of the House for political gain,” said Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens). “Completely, I think, an insult to the president.”
“I am going. While I didn’t like how it came about, the relationship between America and Israel has to stay strong and I am going to show my support for the strength of that relationship no matter what little kerfuffle gets in the way,” New York Sen. Charles Schumer said.
The Netanyahu speech is among the hottest of political hot potatoes. Some Democrats are upset because the invite came from Republican House Speaker Boehner and President Barack Obama is furious because the Israeli prime minister is expected to raise questions about American negotiations with Iran, with a message that Iran can’t be trusted.
“To ask to come here to our country to settle a dispute with our president in our Congress, it defies belief. I cannot think of one good reason why they would do something like this, not one,” said Rep. Charles Rangel (D-Harlem).
Republicans see it as just another Obama diss of Netanyahu, Kramer reported.
“This president has gone out of his way really to give the back of his hand to Prime Minister Netanyahu,” Long Island Rep. Peter King said. “The national interest is to allow Prime Minister Netanyahu to come to the Congress and let the American people know why it’s dangerous for the president to be entering into a nuclear agreement with Iran.”
“I’m concerned that possibly as a result of a deal between the United States and Iran that’s being negotiated right now that Iran could literally be 60, 90 days from having a nuclear weapon at any time,” added Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Suffolk County). “That’s unacceptable to me and should be unacceptable to our president.”
Several members of Congress have not made up their mind on whether to boycott the March 3 speech, Kramer reported.
Brooklyn Congressman Hakeem Jeffries told Kramer he planned to return to his district this weekend and talk with his constituents before making a final decision.