A solid majority of Americans believe that House Speaker John Boehner should not have invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before Congress without first consulting with President Barack Obama, a new CNN/ORC poll finds.
When asked whether congressional leaders had done the "right thing or the wrong thing" in bypassing the president and offering Netanyahu an invitation to address Congress next month, 63 percent of the 1,027 adults surveyed said they had done the wrong thing, while just 36 percent indicated they had done the right thing.
Netanyahu is seeking re-election, and Obama, whose relations with the Israeli leader have been marked by rocky periods, has steered clear of meeting with the prime minister when he comes to Washington.
“As a matter of long-standing practice and principle, we do not see heads of state or candidates in close proximity to their elections, so as to avoid the appearance of influencing a democratic election in a foreign country,” National Security Council Spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a January statement about Netanyahu's visit. “Accordingly, the president will not be meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu because of the proximity to the Israeli election, which is just two weeks after his planned address to the U.S. Congress.”
Boehner's invitation to Netanyahu has been interpreted as a slight towards Obama, and, as a result, several Democrats have announced that they will not attend the speech.
The poll found a partisan divide on the question of whether not consulting Obama was good protocol. Fifty-two percent of Republicans said Boehner had done the right thing by extending the invitation without telling the president, just 14 percent of Democrats and 36 percent of Independents agreed.
Overall, however, 66 percent of those surveyed said they thought that the United States should not take a side when it comes to the Middle East conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.