President Obama will not meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when Netanyahu travels to the United States to address Congress about Iran and other matters, according to the Jerusalem Post.
The White House, which was not consulted about the invitation to address Congress and which has said it was a “breach of protocol,” claimed there would be no meeting because Netanyahu has an election coming up soon.
“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,” Bernadette Meehan, spokesperson for the National Security Council, said in an e-mail to the Post.
The speech to Congress is scheduled for March 3. The Israeli elections are set for the middle of the month.
According to the Post, Netanyahu formally accepted the invitation Thursday to address Congress, but he decided to do so as part of a previously scheduled trip to speak to AIPAC rather than making a special visit in mid-February.