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Susan Rice Calls Benjamin Netanyahu Speech ‘Destructive’ — ADL Dials Back Criticism

National Security Adviser Susan Rice slammed Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned speech as “destructive” and more Democrats lined up against the speech even as the Anti-Defamation League dialed down its criticism.

The speech is “destructive of the fabric of the relationship,” National Security Adviser Susan Rice told Charlie Rose, a TV journalist, on Tuesday.

“What has happened over the last several weeks, by virtue of the invitation that was issued by the speaker and the acceptance of it by Prime Minister Netanyahu on two weeks in advance of his election, is that on both sides, there has now been injected a degree of partisanship,” Rice said Tuesday.

The Israeli prime minister had organized the speech with U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, who did not consult with the White House or Democrats in issuing the invitation, which was made in the name of both parties. Obama administration officials are furious with the invitation and Netanyahu’s acceptance of it, in part because the speech comes just two weeks before the Israeli elections.

It was the latest in a series of increasingly terse exchanges between Netanyahu’s right-wing government and Obama’s administration that have brought U.S.-Israeli ties to one of their lowest points in decades.

Last week, White House spokesman Josh Earnest accused Israel of distorting details of the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program in order to scupper the talks.

Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League urged lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to attend the speech, while saying that the Israeli prime minister’s acceptance of the invitation to speak was “ill-advised.”

“While the original decision by Prime Minister Netanyahu to accept the invitation to address Congress without consulting the Democratic leadership was, in our view, ill-advised, now that it is happening, the speech deserves support from both sides of the aisle,” Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s national director, said in a statement.

“The debate about the invitation should not obscure the profound issues at stake for both the U.S. and Israel which have a common interest in insuring that Iran, the leading state sponsor of terrorism and a nation committed to Israel’s destruction, should not have the capability of building a nuclear weapon,” Foxman said.

The ADL was the most prominent of Jewish groups to speak out against Netanyhu accepting the invitation to the speech. Some 30 Democrats have said they will not attend.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which is having its conference March 1-3 – and which will also feature a Netanyahu speech – is also encouraging lawmakers to attend the speech.

Criticism among Democrats of the speech has intensified ahead of the date.

On Tuesday, Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), addressing Secretary of State John Kerry during Kerry’s testimony on the State Department budget, said Netanyahu “has created a very divisive situation.”

With Reuters

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