Even though he will be addressing a joint session of Congress in March, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not be meeting with President Obama, a White House spokeswoman says.
Obama will not meet Israel’s Netanyahu on U.S. visit http://t.co/LMDw55r9Ku
— Reuters Politics (@ReutersPolitics) January 22, 2015
National Security Council Spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said the reason Obama will not meet with the Israeli leader is so he can remain neutral in the upcoming Israeli elections, The Associated Press reported.
“As a matter of long-standing practice and principle, we do not see heads of state or candidates in close proximity to their elections, so as to avoid the appearance of influencing a democratic election in a foreign country,” Meehan said.
Netanyahu will be in the U.S. in March to give a speech at a policy conference for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, better known as AIPAC, The Wall Street Journal noted. The publication explains the current tension between the president and the prime minister:
The White House and many in Congress are at odds over a new push by some lawmakers for new sanctions against Iran. Mr. Netanyahu favors tougher sanctions, something White House officials have said would be a bad idea because it would upend talks with Iran over its nuclear program.
The Israeli leader will address Congress on March 3. Elections are held exactly two weeks later on March 17. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday the invitation from Boehner to Netanyahu was a “departure” from normal protocol.
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Still, many are slamming Obama for his decision:
— Monica Crowley (@MonicaCrowley) January 22, 2015
Isn’t Obama and Kerry refusing to meet with Netanyahu a tad childish? But then consider the source.
— I’m Ur Huckleberry (@jeanniemcbride) January 22, 2015
— Anne Bayefsky (@AnneBayefsky) January 21, 2015
So Obama snubs Netanyahu, but has no problem meeting with the Holocaust denier Abbas. Message sent.
— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) January 22, 2015
— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) January 22, 2015
— Ed Morrissey (@EdMorrissey) January 22, 2015
— Laura Rozen (@lrozen) January 22, 2015