Updated at 5;56 p.m.
A trio of Jewish House Democrats sent a letter to Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday afternoon calling on him to end the "political firestorm" they claim he created when he invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint meeting of Congress next month.
But unlike some Democrats who are threatening to skip the speech, Reps. Steve Israel (N.Y.), Ted Deutch (Fla.) and Nita Lowey (N.Y.) say they will be there.
"While we have never wavered in our plan to attend the Joint Meeting of Congress with Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and we support placing additional pressure on Iran through new economic sanctions to be triggered should a political deal not be reached by the March 24th deadline, we are extremely disheartened by your recent attempt to politicize support for Israel," they write in the letter, which was shared with The Washington Post.
Democrats have criticized Boehner for taking steps to invite Netanyahu before informing President Obama. They saw it as a slight to the president, who is at odds with GOP leaders and Netanyahu over ramping up sanctions on Iran. The Obama administration has warned that increasing sanctions could ruin talks with Iran about curtailing its nuclear capabilities.
In their letter, the House Democrats cite comments by Israeli diplomats casting the move to invite Netanyahu as "one-sided" and against "normal protocol." They ask Boehner to explain why he didn't give Obama more advance notice.
Boehner's office has posted a timeline of the invitation process online. His office noted that he officially issued the invitation after notifying Obama. But the speaker took steps to prepare the invitation before informing the White House.
The timing of Netanyahu's visit has also drawn criticism from Democrats who say it threatens to shape Israeli politics. The March 3 speech will come just two weeks before the Israeli election, in which Netanyahu will be on the ballot.
Republicans have strongly backed Boehner, arguing that the leader of the House had the right to invite Netanyahu, who in turn had the right to accept or decline the invitation. On Thursday, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.) introduced a resolution co-sponsored by most of his Republican colleagues to welcome Netanyahu to the United States.
“During this time of such great instability and danger in the Middle East, the United States should be unequivocal about our commitment to one of our closest and most important allies. I hope all my colleagues will join me in welcoming Prime Minister Netanyahu to Washington so we can continue to work together to advance our common security interests," Cornyn said in a statement.
The resolution could apply new pressure on wavering Democrats to say whether they will attend the speech.
The letter from Israel, Deutch and Lowey is included below.