Obama And Netanyahu Will Not Meet During Washington Visit

President Obama will not meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his Washington visit in March. The White House said on Thursday the timing of the visit was too close to Israeli’s elections.

“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,” National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said.

The morning after Obama’s State of the Union address, Republican House Speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress on Feb. 11. Boehner asked Netanyahu “to address Congress on the grave threats radical Islam and Iran pose to our security and way of life.”

Some members of Congress are trying to pass new sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program. These sanctions would come if the U.S. and other world powers did not reach a decision over negotiations by its deadline of June 30.

Boehner did not ask the president before inviting the Israeli leader, a move which violates standard protocol. Usually a leader of one country would address another leader directly. However, Boehner maintains that Congress had the right to do so and didn’t intend to “poke anyone in the eye.”

A day after Boehner’s invitation, the White House announced that Obama and Netanyahu will not have a personal meeting.

Instead of the proposed date of Feb. 11, Netanyahu will address Congress on March 3.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democrat, called Netanyahu’s planned visit inappropriate. She explained, “I don’t think it’s appropriate for any country that the head of state would come here within two weeks of his own election in his own country.”

Netanyahu will address an annual conference in Washington held by AIPAC, a pro-Israel lobby group, during early March. Even though the Israeli leader will also address Congress during this visit, Obama and Netanyahu will not meet.

[Photo Credit: Barack Obama]