Netanyahu speech needed to go through Obama, half of U.S. voters say


(JTA) — Nearly half of American voters believe that Republican lawmakers should not have invited Israel’s prime minister to speak to Congress without first notifying President Barack Obama, a new poll found.

Some 48 percent of voters told a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll that Obama should have been consulted. Some 30 percent said they believed the invitation proffered by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was appropriate and another 22 percent said they did not know.

The poll also found that 66 percent of Democrats and 28 percent of Republicans said that Obama should have been notified about the invitation.

Some 800 registered voters were surveyed by phone in the poll conducted Feb. 25-28. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.46 percent.

Netanyahu is scheduled to address a joint session of Congress on Tuesday in a speech that has sparked controversy because neither Obama nor Democratic leaders were notified of the invitation. He also is scheduled to meet that day with a bipartisan group of congressional leaders.

Obama and members of the administration will not meet with Netanyahu, citing Israeli elections scheduled for two weeks later. At least 40 lawmakers have said they will boycott the speech.

The poll found that 47 percent of voters view Israel favorably and 17 percent negatively. In addition, 30 percent viewed Netanyahu positively and 17 percent negatively, up from 24 percent positively and 15 percent in August.

Nearly half of Americans have not seen, heard or read news coverage about Netanyahu’s upcoming speech, according to the poll.

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