Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is joining a slew of Republican lawmakers who criticized President Obama for not congratulating Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his party’s victory in this week’s parliamentary elections.
“He’s showing more respect for Iran than he is for the prime minister of Israel, and that’s a terrible precedent that he’s set,” Rubio said late Wednesday on Fox News’s “Hannity,” while also slamming the White House’s negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.
“I have no idea why he is more willing to speak to the Iranians and show more respect for Iran than he is willing to show respect for our strong ally in Israel and Netanyahu.”
Secretary of State John Kerry called to congratulate Netanyahu in what the State Department described as a “brief” conversation.
“The president, in the days ahead, in the coming days, I anticipate will also call Prime Minister Netanyahu to do the same thing.” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Wednesday on Air Force One.
Rubio also questioned the relationship between Obama and Netanyahu, which has been the victim of public flaps, including the most recent debate over Netanyahu’s speech to Congress.
Republicans defended Netanyahu’s appearance as a chance to hear from an important Middle Eastern ally about the danger of the multilateral negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. But Democrats and the White House said that GOP leaders should have discussed the invitation with the administration and slammed Netanyahu’s appearance as politically motivated because of his upcoming election.
“While I have great admiration for … Prime Minister Netanyahu, our commitment is to the state of Israel,” Rubio said.
“This president has threatened that through his personal animus towards the prime minister.”
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) echoed Rubio’s concerns during an interview Wednesday night on Fox News’s “On the Record.”
“Shame on him for not having made that call,” she said, referring to Obama.
“What this is about is that Netanyahu has been in the president’s face about this weak and dangerous Iranian deal that is going to undermine U.S. Security interests and the president wants it his way or no way. He doesn’t want any dissenting opinions.”