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Boehner calls White House reaction to Netanyahu victory an 'understatement'

Tina Nazerian in our Washington Bureau is reporting that House Speaker John Boehner laughed at an assertion that the White House’s response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election was “lukewarm,” calling it the “understatement of the day.”

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In a sign of White House unhappiness with Netanyahu, Obama waited until Thursday afternoon before calling the Israeli prime minister to congratulate him, a full day after British Prime Minister David Cameron and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper congratulated Netanyahu by twitter.

Boehner provoked intense White House irritation when he personally invited Netanyahu to speak two weeks ago to a joint meeting of Congress. During that speech, Netanyahu made clear his opposition to potential agreement between the United States and Iran to limit Tehran’s apparent hopes to build a nuclear weapon.

“The prime minister recognizes the grave threats that we face from radical Islam and from Iran -- that’s what he talked about in his speech to Congress,” Boehner said. “This is an opportunity to renew our commitment to confront these threats, and of course, to continue to strengthen the bond between Israel and America.”

Boehner pointedly referred to Netanyahu as his friend and laughed aloud when a reporter asked whether the White House response to his re-election was lukewarm.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest Wednesday told reporters Wednesday that the administration was “deeply concerned about rhetoric” from Netanyahu and other members of his Likud Party “that seeks to marginalize Arab-Israeli citizens.”

The rhetoric “undermines the values and Democratic ideals that have been important to our democracy and an important part of what binds the United States and Israel together,” said Earnest.

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