Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during his meeting with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met for the first time since a rash of civilian casualties during Israel's summer war with Hamas heightened tensions between two leaders who have long had a prickly relationship. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during his meeting with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met for the first time since a rash of civilian casualties during Israel's summer war with Hamas heightened tensions between two leaders who have long had a prickly relationship. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during his meeting with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

 (McClatchy) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing growing criticism in Israel for a planned speech to the U.S. Congress about Iran, accused by his political rivals of damaging ties with Washington to promote his election campaign.

Netanyahu accepted an invitation from House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to address a joint session of Congress on March 3, two weeks before the Israeli elections.

The invitation was not coordinated with the White House and it was widely seen as a Republican attempt to enlist Netanyahu, who advocates tougher measures against Iran, in the dispute with President Barack Obama over whether to impose new sanctions on Iran.

In Israel, critics have characterized Netanyahu’s trip as an election ploy and a slap in the face of the Obama administration after it’s worked hard to deflect challenges to Israel at the United Nations and most recently at the International Criminal Court.

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