The White House said Monday it was “surprised” to learn through press reports that “Israeli” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had declined an invitation to meet President Barack Obama later this month in Washington.
An aide to Obama said that Netanyahu’s office requested a sit-down between the two leaders on March 17 or 18, and that the White House responded two weeks ago offering March 18 as a meeting date.
In this regard, National Security Council Spokesman Ned Price said: “We were surprised to first learn via media reports that the Prime Minister, rather than accept our invitation, opted to cancel his visit.”
Netanyahu’s visit would have coincided with the annual American “Israeli” Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC] conference, a meeting of pro-“Israel” advocates in Washington where Netanyahu often speaks. His office indicated Monday he would deliver remarks to the conference via video conference instead.
However, a source familiar with Netanyahu’s decision-making said he was wary of visiting Washington amid the rancorous 2016 campaign. Several 2016 candidates are expected to speak at AIPAC and requested meetings with Netanyahu.
Obama and Netanyahu had an icy relationship that reached its nadir one year ago when Netanyahu traveled to Washington to lobby against Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, including addressing the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
During his visit, the White House declined to schedule a meeting between the two leaders, saying the “Israelis” broke protocol by not consulting with the administration before traveling to the US capital.
Source: Al-Ahed news