Spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan cited a ?long-standing practice? of not meeting heads of state close to elections, which Israel will hold in mid-March.

Mr Netanyahu was invited by House Speaker John Boehner in what is seen as a rebuke to Mr Obama?s Iran policy.

President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama

The US president has said he will veto attempts to add new sanctions on Iran.

Mr Obama believes new measures will be harmful to negotiations over Iran?s nuclear programme, talks Mr Netanyahu has opposed.

The Israeli prime minister has warned a deal between Iran and the US will pose a threat to Israel.

On Thursday, Mr Netanyahu formally accepted the invitation from senior Republican Mr Boehner, saying it will give him the chance to ?thank President Barack Obama, Congress and the American people for their support of Israel?

He is expected to discuss Iran, as well as Islamic militant groups, in his address to Congress on 3 March.

?As a matter of long-standing practice and principle, we do not see heads of state or candidates in close proximity to their elections, so as to avoid the appearance of influencing a democratic election in a foreign country,? Ms Meehan said in a statement.

She added Mr Obama had ?been clear about his opposition? about new sanctions legislation.

?The president has had many conversations with the prime minister on this matter, and I am sure they will continue to be in contact.?

Nancy Pelosi, the House?s top Democrat, said the visit, two weeks before Israel?s election and in the midst of ?delicate? Iran talks, is not ?appropriate and helpful?.

Mr Netanyahu is fighting a tough election against the Labor Party?s Yitzhak Herzog, who has focused on the prime minister?s cooler relations with Mr Obama.

Source:? BBC


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