A few dozen Democrats plan to skip the speech, the White House isn’t done blasting the prime minister and Republicansespecially presidential hopefulsare using it all as red meat.
In Israel, meanwhile, Netanyahu’s visit has added an extra layer to an already contentious election season.
Why has this become such a massive fiasco? And what does this mean for the future of the U.S.-Israel relationship?
Let’s dive in.
1. Isn’t support for Israel rock solid in Congress? Why has an Israeli prime minister’s visit become so controversial?
The controversy first started because of two words: protocol and snub.
House Speaker John Boehner’s announcement that Netanyahu would be addressing Congress took the White House by surprise.
The question on everyone’s minds in Washington is whether U.S. support for Israel is now becoming a partisan issue.
READ: Has Israel lost the Democratic Party?
While several Democrats will be skipping Netanyahu’s speech and National Security Adviser Susan Rice recently called Netanyahu’s address “destructive” to the U.S.-Israel relationship, widespread support for Israel is unlikely to wane anytime soon.
Opposition to certain policies — like settlement building in the West Bank — may be gaining strength, but shifting Democratic views and the recent tensions provoked by Netanyahu’s impending visit haven’t affected U.S. military assistance and diplomatic support for Israel (and aren’t likely to).
Despite the personal tensions, the relationship between the U.S. and Israel has remained close throughout Obama’s tenure — and Israeli officials like to emphasize that ties between the two countries have never been stronger.
However, the deep disagreements on Iran mean that there could be a divergence on a significant policy issue. There have been reports of some breaks in what has traditionally been intensive consultations on the matter.
And though the U.S. has showed no sign of backing away from its defense of Israel in places like the U.N. where the Palestinians enjoy wide support, a nasty, politicized spat between Israeli and American leaders doesn’t exactly boost Israel’s standing.