Fox News Issues Rare Criticism of Netanyahu

Fox News hosts Chris Wallace and Shepard Smith warn that Netanyahu's speech to Congress could damage relations.

Elad Benari,

Binyamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama
Binyamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama
Flash 90

Fox News on Friday aired a rare criticism of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, over his decision to accept an invitation from House speaker John Boehner to address Congress.

Fox News hosts Chris Wallace and Shepard Smith criticized the move, saying it would cause backlash in Israel and damage the relationship between the United States and Israel.

“I happened to be the White House on Wednesday when Boehner announced he invited and Netanyahu accepted this, and a top White House official was flabbergasted. Said, ‘We got no advance warning. We found out about it,’ them in the White House, ‘when Boehner announced it to the press,’” Wallace said.

“To make you get a sense of really how, forgive me, wicked this whole thing is: Secretary of State John Kerry met with the Israeli Ambassador to the United States for two hours on Tuesday, and Ron Dermer, the ambassador, according to the State Department, never mentioned the fact that Netanyahu was in negotiations, and finally agreed, to come to Washington, not to see the president but to go to Capitol Hill, speak to a joint session of Congress and criticize the president’s policies,” he continued.

“I have to say, I’m shocked,” Wallace added.

Smith then agreed with Wallace and said, “It seems like [Netanyahu's government thinks] we don’t pay attention and that we’re just a bunch of complete morons, the United States citizens, as if we wouldn’t pick up on what’s happening here.”

The two also quoted former U.S. ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, who said "Netanyahu is using the Republican Congress for a photo-op for his election campaign and the Republicans are using Bibi for their campaign against Obama..."

"Unfortunately, the U.S. relationship will take the hit. It would be far wiser for us to stay out of their politics and for them to stay out of ours," added Indyk, with whom Wallace said he agreed "100 percent."

The Politico website revealed on Wednesday that the invitation to Netanyahu to address Congress was extended by Boehner without consulting the White House or the State Department. Instead, Boehner’s and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s staff coordinated with Ambassador Dermer only.

The White House originally gave an icy response to news that Netanyahu was invited to address Congress, saying it was a departure from diplomatic protocol.

On Friday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest delivered a more toned down response, stressing there was no tension between President Obama and Netanyahu, and that Obama’s refusal to meet with Netanyahu during his visit stemmed onl from the fact that the visit is close to the elections in Israel.

Democratic leaders in the Senate were livid over the invitation to Netanyahu, with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid saying that Republican congressional leaders did not consult him on inviting Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress, but adding he would welcome the speech.

Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the House Democrats, used harsher language, blasting Boehner for failing to consult with Democrats.

“It's out of the ordinary that the Speaker would decide that he would be inviting people to a joint session without any bipartisan consultation,” she said.

"It's hubris to say 'I rule, I'll decide,' without any sensitivity" to the upcoming Israeli elections, charged Pelosi.