Rep. John Lewis on Prime Minister Netanyahu's Address
Rep. John Lewis along with several of his colleagues spoke at a press conference in Washington today following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to both houses of the U.S. Congress. He made these remarks in response to the prime minister's address:
In this Congress, I take a backseat to no one in my commitment and support of Israel and the American Jewish community. On many occasions, we have worked side-by-side to strengthen our democracy and fight for equality and justice in this country. That commitment will not change.
I have worked consistently throughout my career for long-term peace in the Middle East, a secure Jewish state and have fought against anti-Semitism and hate on American shores and abroad.
However, this nation is currently involved in sensitive, on-going negotiations with Iran. Elections in Israel are just about two weeks away on March 17th.
That the Speaker of the House of Representatives would allow the floor of this chamber to be used to undercut the negotiations of the President of the United States is partisan, and it is not right.
Several ambassadors as well as the leaders of prominent Jewish organizations called upon the Prime Minister to cancel his speech. The Speaker's action is an affront to the President of the United States, to the Democratic leadership of Congress, and the Department of State.
It is meant to purposely undermine the work of our elected and appointed representatives who are the ones responsible to protect the interests of the American people.
The floor of the House is a centerpiece of public debate in our democracy. It should not be used as a partisan tool.
I am saddened, that the Speaker would threaten this nation's historic, bipartisan support of our Israeli brothers and sisters by this action. It is for this reason that I chose not to attend this morning’s address, and it is my hope that today’s partisan, political low will never, ever be repeated again on the House Floor. Thank you.