House Speaker John A. Boehner on Wednesday invited Israel’s prime minister to speak next month before a joint meeting of Congress as part of a growing showdown with President Obama over proposals to tighten sanctions against Iran.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly accepted the offer to make the address on Feb. 11, the Reuters news agency reported.
The outreach by Boehner (R-Ohio) followed Obama’s latest appeals Tuesday to hold off on any threats of additional economic pressures against Iran while talks remain open over possible ways to limit Tehran’s nuclear program.
Boehner said he hoped Netanyahu would speak on the “grave threats radical Islam and Iran pose to our security and way of life.”
Netanyahu’s scheduled appearance would mark his third address before a joint meeting of Congress — the most recent in May 2011.
Obama wants to let the negotiations with Tehran play out before any new sanctions are considered. Obama has vowed to veto any sanctions bill.
New sanctions “will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails, alienating America from its allies and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again,” Obama said in his State of the Union speech Tuesday.
Some lawmakers, meanwhile, are pushing ahead with proposals that would call for increased sanctions if a deal with Iran is not reached by July.
“He expects us to stand idly by and do nothing while he cuts a bad deal with Iran,” Boehner told GOP lawmakers Wednesday. “Two words: Hell no. . . . We’re going to do no such thing.”
Iran and world powers, including the United States, are engaged in talks over possible controls and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program, including levels of uranium enrichment.
The West and its allies worry that Iran could eventually use its ability to make nuclear fuel to produce weapons-grade material in the future. Iran insists it seeks nuclear reactors only for energy and medical research.