Earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scored an unexpected victory, pulling out a seemingly last-minute election day win over center-left challenger Issac Herzog. He secured a third term, but his road to get there has proven extremely controversial. He's been criticized for racial demagoguery, and his late-game disavowal of a two-state solution with Palestine has badly strained the relationship between Israel and the United States. But he still knows he's got some powerful friends stateside, at least — House Speaker John Boehner will travel to Israel in late March, and it's fair to think that might stick in the White House's craw a little bit.
Boehner, you may remember, teamed up with with Netanyahu earlier this month on one of the stranger, more uncomfortable spectacles in America's recent diplomatic history. Extending an invite without even consulting or asking the White House — a potentially disruptive move, considering the country's active engagement with Iran on a nuclear deal right now — Boehner brought Netanyahu to the House chamber to condemn the efforts. It was a deeply politicized affair. Scores of Democrats refused to attend, and Republican staffers reportedly filled in some of those seats keep the optics right.
Given his central role in engineering this oh-so-awkward moment for the Obama administration, you wouldn't be shocked if they were less than thrilled with his visit. A little celebration on the occasion of Netanyahu's resurgence, perhaps? That's not how Boehner spokesperson Kevin Smith makes it out. In a statement on his boss' upcoming trip, he gave a far more boilerplate, less interesting interpretation.
[Boehner] looks forward to visiting the country, discussing our shared priorities for peace and security in the region, and further strengthening the bond between the United States and Israel.
The White House, for its part, hasn't tipped too much of how they feel about all this. When questioned about the Speaker's travel plans Friday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest didn't dive into it too deeply (admittedly, not diving into things too deeply is kind of the press secretary's job description, but hey). As detailed by The Globe And Mail, Earnest replied that visits to Israel were common for both Democrats and Republicans alike, and that's Boehner's decision to visit (reportedly his first trip there in seven years) didn't come as any surprise. Boehner is expected to be in Israel at some point during the upcoming congressional recess, between March 27 and April 13.
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