National security advisor Susan Rice gave the starkest White House warning yet against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to speak to a joint session of Congress next month, calling the move “destructive of the fabric of the relationship” between the United States and Israel.
Rice spoke Tuesday evening with PBS’s Charlie Rose about the March 3 speech, planned without President Obama’s knowledge and designed to urge Congress to take a harder line on Iran — something the White House wishes to avoid as it pursues a nuclear deal with the Islamic theocracy.
“The relationship between Israel, as a country, and the United States, as a country, has always been bipartisan,” she told Rose. “What has happened over the last several weeks — by virtue of the invitation that was issued by the Speaker [John Boehner] and the acceptance of it by Prime Minister Netanyahu two weeks in advance of his election — is on both sides, there has now been injected a degree of partisanship.”
Rice called that partisanship “not only unfortunate — I think it’s destructive of the fabric of the relationship.”
For weeks the White House has privately fumed over the speech, lobbying Democratic lawmakers not to attend and anonymously claiming the Israeli prime minister “spat in [their] face.” But Rice’s remark represents the first public condemnation of Netanyahu’s Washington visit by a high-profile member of the Obama administration.