New York’s senior Senator Charles Schumer called on fellow Democrats to put principles above politics this week and be in their seats March 3 when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu walks to the podium in Congress.
The U.S. has always maintained a “bipartisan policy” on its relationship with Israel, Schumer said during a radio interview in New York.
“Democrats and Republicans have always worked together on it; we ought to keep it that way.”
Vice President Joe Biden’s office announced that he will be “out of the country” when Israel’s leader addresses American lawmakers.
Schumer offered the opinion that House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu “could have been done in a different way.”
As the leader of an ally in the Middle East that is “helping us fight terrorism,” Schumer said, Netanyahu has “every right to come here and speak, but he ought to do it in a bipartisan manner.”
Both of New York’s Democratic senators and all but two of its Democratic representatives will attend the session.
Long-time Congress member Charles Rangel (D-Harlem) is one of the ‘won’t go’s.
“I am certain his motivation comes more from Israel than from his American friends,” Rangel told the New York Daily News — as if the Israeli prime minister should put America’s interests above those of his own nation’s citizens.
“I think that they would have to realize that this is not in the best interests of Israel, that he does this for his campaign,” he added. The remark leads one to wonder why a New York Congress member would suddenly make a reference to an Israeli national election when the address – and the topic – was arranged months earlier.
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens) also plans to be absent for the session, according to the report. Congress member Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn) did not respond to a query by the Daily News about her plans; Rep. Hakeem Jeffries told the paper he is “consulting” with his constituents in Brooklyn before deciding. All other New York City Democrats plan to attend, the paper reported. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) commented that skipping the speech would be a political move. “I am not choosing to participate in those politics,” she said.
“I hope that things can be worked out to salve some of the legitimate wounds that people feel,” Schumer said. “I will go to the speech out of my respect and love for the State of Israel.”
Meanwhile, Iran continues to behave in the manner predicted by Israel, which deeply concerns its leadership over the likelihood Tehran will reach a nuclear threshold.
Iran is still not cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), according to a confidential report obtained by Reuters. The agency remains unable to clarify outstanding measures of explosives tests and other activity that could be used to create nuclear weapons of mass destruction. Data in both areas were to have been provided to the IAEA by August 2014.
But this is not new behavior; Tehran long ago mastered the technique of buying time for more nuclear development by stringing along Western leaders with promises of “new talks” and “negotiations” in return for delays on sanctions. The current P5+1 negotiations, slated to end in a “new agreement” by March 24, are just more of the same.
It is precisely the danger inherent in the repeated delays – and time granted to Iran that allows it to progress in its nuclear activities – that has finally prompted Netanyahu to turn to Congress directly.Hana Levi Julian