Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) blasted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing this morning and unleashed on his colleagues for criticizing the Obama administration’s relationship with Israel.
During her remarks, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said President Obama was having a “temper tantrum” toward Netanyahu.
Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) noted that Obama “clearly has disdain for the winner of the Israeli elections this week.”
“The only group I can think of he might have more disdain for is the elected representatives of the American people, this Congress,” Chabot said. “Since Israel will be the most directly affected by a bad deal with Iran, how’s the administration gonna repair relations with our key ally in the region?”
Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken countered that “no administration has done more for Israel’s security than this administration.”
“That is the least credible answer I’ve heard all morning, that no president has done more for the American-Israeli relations than this president,” Chabot replied.
Blinken clarified that he said “for Israel’s security,” not general relations.
“Security, relations, whatever, this president — there has been no president that has damaged relations between the United States and Israel more than this president,” Chabot fired back.
When it was time for Connolly’s five minutes, the congressman began by lashing out at Ros-Lehtinen and Chabot.
“I cannot let that go by. A foreign leader has insulted the head of state of the United States government. It’s not a temper tantrum, and it didn’t start with President Obama; it started with Bibi Netanyahu,” Connolly said.
“You can decide for yourself whether it was appropriate for him to speak to a joint session, but the process is beyond dispute. It was an insult to this government. Friends don’t act that way.”
Connolly noted that former President Shimon Peres gave Obama an award for his support of Israel.
“At some point, does the partisan rhetoric ever stop? Where are your loyalties with respect to the prerogatives of this government and our country? And the shameless way Mr. Netanyahu has conducted himself deserves reproach. And I think the president has shown restraint,” the Virginia Dem continued.
“And I say this as somebody who has a 35-year record of unwavering support for Israel. I’m not a critic of the Israeli government, but I am a critic of how this prime minister has treated my president, everyone’s president. And I cannot sit here and listen to the waving away of bad behavior that is an insult to my country. We have one president. Whether you like him or not, whether you want to take political issue with him or not, fair enough. That’s fair game,” he said.
“But when a foreign leader insults him, that should not be fair game, and that should never be apologized away, because it damages relationships long-term. It puts a divide where there was never a divide in public opinion and my country, and I worry about that long- term. I hope you do too.”