A diplomatic rift between the Obama administration and Israel over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before Congress next month may be getting deeper.

PHOTO: Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Speaker of the House John Boehner wait for the start of the State of the Union address by President Barack Obama, Jan. 20, 2015, in the House Chamber of the Capitol in Washington.

Image: Mandel Ngan/AP Photo

 

Vice President Joe Biden, who as president of the U.S. Senate would customarily preside over a joint session on Capitol Hill, has announced that he will not attend the speech.

His office confirmed to ABC News that he will be “traveling abroad,” but it wouldn’t say why or where.

The absence could give cover to other Democrats who have contemplated boycotting the speech. Republican House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, invited Netanyahu without consulting with the White House, a violation of protocol that rankled the administration and its allies. The Israeli prime minister, who is in the midst of an election campaign, is likely to use the platform to burnish his image at home and rally American opposition to an Iran nuclear deal.

“Normally, our office wouldn’t announce this early,” a Biden spokeswoman said of the trip. “But the planning process has been underway for a while.”

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