25 February 2015
Last updated at 15:53
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
A top adviser to US President Barack Obama has warned that the Israeli Prime Minister’s decision to address Congress next week is “destructive” to US-Israel relations.
National Security Adviser Susan Rice’s comments are the White House’s strongest criticism of the visit.
Benjamin Netanyahu was invited by House Speaker John Boehner in what is seen as a rebuke to Mr Obama’s Iran policy.
The visit injected partisanship into bilateral relations, Ms Rice told PBS.
“It’s destructive to the fabric of the relationship,” she told the Charlie Rose show.
Rice said she would not “ascribe motives to the prime minister” when asked if she thought Mr Netanyahu was using the visit to gain political clout in US.
“We want the relationship between the United States and Israel to be unquestionably strong, immutable … regardless of which party may be in charge in either country.”
The White House is negotiating with Iran on its nuclear programme and has rejected calls for additional sanctions on the regime.
Mr Netanyahu – who supports more sanctions – is expected to discuss Iran, as well as Islamic militant groups, in his address.
He has turned down an invitation to meet privately with Senate Democrats, saying it “could compound the misperception of partisanship” surrounding his trip.
US National Security Adviser Susan Rice
Several Democratic members of Congress including Vice President Joe Biden have said they would not attend the speech.
In inviting Netanyahu, Republican leaders did not consult beforehand with the Obama administration, which the White House has called a breach of protocol.
Mr Obama does not plan to meet Mr Netanyahu next week. The White House cited the “long-standing practice” of not meeting government leaders close to elections, which Israel will hold in mid-March.
Mr Netanyahu is fighting a tough election against the Labor Party’s Yitzhak Herzog, who has focused on the prime minister’s cooler relations with Mr Obama.