WASHINGTON - The Obama administration has displayed "reprehensible animosity" towards Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, House Speaker John Boehner says.
Netanyahu's recent election victory dramatically exacerbated a diplomatic crisis with Washington, bringing his thorny relationship with US President Barack Obama into sharp focus.
In a bid to ramp up votes, Netanyahu had veered sharply to the right, vowing there would be no Palestinian state on his watch, promising to increase settlement construction and warning that Arab Israeli voters were going "in droves" to the polls, drawing a rebuke from the White House.
Republican Boehner, who invited Netanyahu to Washington in the lead-up to the Israeli election without consulting the White House, said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday: "I think the animosity exhibited by our administration toward the prime minister of Israel is reprehensible.
"And I think that the pressure that they've put on him over the last four or five years has, frankly, pushed him to the point where he had to speak up. I don't blame him at all for speaking up."
Boehner said his trip this week to Israel was planned "months ago."
"So it's not quite what I would describe as a victory lap," he added.
"There are serious issues and activities going on in the Middle East and I think it's critically important for members of Congress to hear from foreign leaders, other governments, other parts of their government to get a real handle on the challenges we face there."