Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a joint press conference with US President Barack Obama at PM Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem in March 2013. (Kobi Gideon/GPO/FLASH90)

Netanyahu canceled his trip to the US this month, where he was invited to meet with Obama as well as to address the annual AIPAC conference.

US officials reacted with surprise upon hearing – allegedly through media reports – that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not be traveling to the US this month to meet with US President Barack Obama.

Obama will be leaving for Cuba on March 21, and Netanyahu reportedly requested a meeting before the president’s departure.

“We were looking forward to hosting the bilateral meeting, and we were surprised to first learn via media reports that the prime minister, rather than accept our invitation, opted to cancel his visit,” said Ned Price, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, according to Reuters.

“Reports that we were not able to accommodate the prime minister’s schedule are false,” Price added.

A senior Israeli official cited Tuesday’s upcoming visit to Israel by US Vice President Joe Biden as well as fears that Netanyahu could inadvertently become entangled in the American presidential campaign as likely reasons for the decision, Times of Israel reported.

“At the moment, it looks like we’re not going to Washington,” the official, who requested anonymity, told Times of Israel ahead of the official announcement Monday evening. “The thinking is that we’re seeing Biden this week and the assumption is that in the discussion with Biden all the issues will come up,” he said.

Netanyahu will also forego his appearance at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference, which takes place March 20-22, and will instead address the event by satellite.

“Also, at AIPAC, many of the presidential candidates are giving speeches and might ask for meetings with the PM. We don’t want to get involved in the US election process,” Times of Israel quoted the Israeli official as saying.

By: United with Israel Staff


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Source: United with Israel