John Boehner invites Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting on April 6, 2014 in Jerusalem (AFP)

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday to address a joint meeting of Congress on Feb. 11.


"In this time of challenge, I am asking the prime minister to address Congress on the grave threats radical Islam and Iran pose to our security and way of life," Boehner said in a statement.

The invitation came a day after U.S. President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union address he would veto legislation that toughens sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.

Netanyahu had accepted the invitation, an Israeli official said, adding that the prime minister was exploring the possibility of meeting with Obama during the visit.

The trip would be five weeks before Israel's March 17 elections and could give Netanyahu a boost with voters at home and help him underscore his main campaign theme that he is best placed to tackle regional security threats.

Opinion polls show his right-wing Likud party running neck-and-neck with center-left Labour but give him the best chance of forming a governing coalition with far-right and Jewish Orthodox factions after the vote.

(Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Trott)