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Ear to the Ground

Obama Refuses to Meet With Netanyahu, or Maybe He’s Just Busy

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Posted on Sep 12, 2012
White House/Lawrence Jackson

President Obama talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside the White House following meetings in 2009.

According to a Haaretz source, the president has no time for the Israeli prime minister during a U.S. visit this month:

An official in Jerusalem said that the Prime Minister’s Office sent the White House a message stating that although Netanyahu will spend only two and a half days on U.S. soil, he is interested in meeting Obama and is willing to travel to the U.S. capital specifically for that purpose.  The official added that the White House rejected the request and said that at this time Obama’s schedule does not allow for a meeting.

According to the Guardian, the White House denies that Netanyahu was refused a meeting, although that seems to be the line put out by unnamed “Israeli officials”:

But the White House denied any intentional snub of Netanyahu, saying that the president was not able to meet the Israeli leader in New York because the pair would not be in the city on the same day. It also said Netanyahu did not request a meeting in Washington, “nor was a request for a meeting ever denied.” However, Israeli officials continued to assert in private that Obama appeared to have snubbed the Israeli leader.

It sounds like a case of he said, who said?

Whatever his calendar, President Obama surely wants to avoid a public feud with Israel this close to the election. The prime minister, who has been as critical of Obama’s approach to Iran as Obama was of his approach to the peace process, will meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other top officials.

—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer. Follow him on Twitter: @peesch.

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