Washington (CNN)House Speaker John Boehner will travel to Jerusalem sometime in the next two weeks to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a top Israeli government official told CNN Friday.
Boehner to meet with Netanyahu in Jerusalem
Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith confirmed the visit, which will take place during the Easter recess and marks Boehner's first trip to the nation since becoming Speaker. His last visit was in 2008.
"The Speaker will visit Israel during the next district work period. He looks forward to visiting the country, discussing our shared priorities for peace and security in the region, and further strengthening the bond between the United States and Israel," Smith said.
According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the speaker's trip will begin March 31, and he'll be leading a congressional delegation of Republican lawmakers.
It's the latest move by the House Speaker that's sure to amplify a growing partisan divide over Israel, as the show of support from Republicans comes just as President Barack Obama is warning Netanyahu that he may have done irreparable damage to Israel's ties with the U.S. with his speech to Congress earlier this month and comments he made in the final days of his re-election campaign regarding opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state. Netanyahu has since walked back those comments.
Boehner invited the Israeli leader to speak in Congress, and Netanyahu accepted, without consulting with the President first, a move that incensed the White House and strained already tense relations between the two leaders.
A Boehner aide said the visit was planned long before the prime minister's controversial speech to Congress.