Partisanship has no place in foreign policy

OK, one more attempt at making sense of this Bibi blowup and I’ll move on.

It’s being reported that about a quarter of congressional Democrats are going to stay away from the speech Tuesday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will make before a joint session of Congress.

Democrats are angry that Republican Speaker John Boehner invited Bibi to speak without consulting with the White House. I get their anger. It is infuriating that Boehner would flout longstanding diplomatic protocol by inviting a foreign head of government in such a manner.

Netanyahu, in remarks today to a pro-Israel group, said he doesn’t want to become the object of partisan scorn in Washington. Indeed, such partisanship shouldn’t be an issue when we’re talking about foreign policy matters.

Who, though, turned it into a partisan event? I’ll go with Boehner, who stuck it in the president’s eye in the way he invited Netanyahu. The prime minister opposes negotiations to get Iran to stop its nuclear development program; he favors tougher sanctions on Iran now, along with Boehner and most Republicans; Obama opposes the sanctions; and the president is miffed over the invitation issue.

None of this means the United States and Israel are going to part company. Netanyahu will affirm the nations’ close ties Tuesday, just as he did today.

The partisan nature of the protest, though, smacks more of petulance than anything else.

I’ll say it again: Democrats should listen to Bibi in person and give him the respect that the leader of our nation’s strongest Middle East ally deserves.


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