Republican John Boehner, the speaker of the U.S. Congress, will travel to Israel within the next several weeks in light of the recent reelection of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“He 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,” Boehner’s spokesman Kevin Smith said in a statement.
Boehner, an avid supporter of Netanyahu and his policies, angered the White House and many congressmen earlier this month after inviting Netanyahu to address Congress at a joint meeting. Despite saying that the speech was exclusively political, Netanyahu later used his speech in a political campaign commercial that aired in Israel several days before his election and featured applause from members of Congress.
Despite U.S.-Israel relations being at an all-time low, YNet News reports that President Barack Obama called the Israeli Prime Minister to congratulate him on his reelection and also stressed U.S. commitment to a two-state solution in Israel. The U.S. president "reaffirmed the United States’ long-standing commitment to a two-state solution that results in a secure Israel alongside a sovereign and viable Palestine," a statement issued by the White House said.
The White House said that "the President and the Prime Minister agreed to continue consultations on a range of regional issues, including the difficult path forward to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
Obama also "emphasized the importance the United States places on our close military, intelligence, and security cooperation with Israel, which reflects the deep and abiding partnership between both countries."
The rift between the White House and Netanyahu will most likely not be resolved anytime soon, as Netanyahu continues to flip-flop on his stance regarding Palestine.
In 2009, Netanyahu spoke at Bar Ilan University, and for the first time, he endorsed the idea of a Palestinian state. However, during his re-election campaign this year, Netanyahu told Israeli news site NRG that there would be no Palestinian state during his reign as Prime Minister, saying, "Whoever moves to establish a Palestinian state or intends to withdraw from territory is simply yielding territory for radical Islamic terrorist attacks against Irael."
Netanyahu has recently attempted to backtrack from this pre-election declaration in an interview with MSNBC.
"I haven't changed my policy. I never retracted my speech in Bar Ilan University six years ago calling for a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state," Netanyahu told the news station on Tuesday. "I don't want a one-state solution. I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution, but for that circumstances have to change."
The White House seems unimpressed with this walk-back, however, as spokesman Josh Earnest warned in a press conference on Thursday that there will be "consequences" for Israel.
"He walked back from commitments that Israel had previously made to a two-state solution," Earnest told reporters. "It is cause for the United States to evaluate what our path is forward."
Boehner’s visit to Israel is coming at the perfect time as the Israel-U.S. relationship is clearly deteriorating with false promises and vastly different policies. There is no doubt that Netanyahu has a healthier relationship with Boehner than the White House, and it is up to the Republican speaker to get both the U.S. and Israel on the same page.