Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined an invitation to meet behind closed doors with Democratic Senators on his March 3 visit to Washington to address a joint session of Congress.
The invitation came as several Democrats have declared that they would avoid the PM’s speech.
“Though I appreciate your kind invitation to meet with Democratic Senators, I believe that doing so at this time could compound the misperception of partisanship regarding my upcoming visit, ” Netanyahu said in a letter to Senator Dick Durbin and Senator Dianne Feinstein.
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As you’ll recall, President Obama based his own refusal to see Netanyahu this visit on the same argument — that it would appear like his meddling in Israel’s elections politics.
Of course, the U.S. is two years away from its next elections, but, apparently, Bibi is being extra careful.
Netanyahu added: “I regret that the invitation to address the special joint session of Congress has been perceived by some to be political or partisan. I can assure you that my sole intention in accepting it was to voice Israel’s grave concern about a potential nuclear agreement with Iran that could threaten the survival of my country.”
And to wreck an American deal with Iran over its nuclear program, which is the PM’s prerogative, of course.
In a statement, Senator Durbin said Netanyahu’s response was “disappointing.”
He added: “We offered the prime minister an opportunity to balance the politically divisive invitation from Speaker Boehner with a private meeting with Democrats who are committed to keeping the bipartisan support of Israel strong. His refusal to meet is disappointing to those of us who have stood by Israel for decades.”
Bibi may live to regret this snub. The next Senate election will see double the number of Republicans vs Democrats running, making it possible for the latter to take the majority again. Does he really have so many friends that he’s willing to start a needless fight with these ardent supporters of Israel?