“Never has so much been written about a speech that hasn’t been given,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday, as he looked ahead to his speech before Congress.
The Israeli leader’s comments at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference Monday perfectly captured the contentious debate surrounding his invitation to address Congress. Controversy has swirled since the beginning, as House Speaker John Boehner extended the invitation without informing the White House.
President Obama will not be meeting with Netanyahu during his trip to Washington, reaffirming his position in an interview with Reuters that the prime minister’s visit distracts from the ultimate goal of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
“As a matter of policy, we think it’s a mistake for the prime minister of any country to come to speak before Congress a few weeks before they’re about to have an election. It makes it look like we are taking sides,” Obama said. “I don’t think it’s permanently destructive. I think that it is a distraction from what should be our focus.”
Although Netanyahu vowed on Monday at AIPAC that his speech would not intended to show any disrespect to the president, he is expected to speak out against the president’s plan for a prospective nuclear deal with Iran.
Activists are leading demonstrations against Netanyahu and Israel on the front lines of the AIPAC conference and Congress, as well as in New York. Here is a look at some of those protests: