The White House says President Obama’s refusal to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next month is due to a desire not to affect the Israeli elections two weeks later.
“As a matter of longstanding 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,” said White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan last month.
Buhhht . . .
President Clinton in 1996 met with a world leader at the White House less than a month before his election. An ISRAELI leader. Shimon Peres. His opponent? BENJAMIN NETANYAHU.
Here they are. Meeting. As the inventor of the Internet looks on.
In fact, Netanyahu at the time complained that Peres was making a campaign stop at the White House.
“I can’t find an example of any previous Israeli government whose prime minister, on the eve of elections, made a cynical attempt to use relations between Israel and the United States as a party advertisement,” he said. “With all due respect, I want to say to Mr. Peres … that foreigners do not decide the outcome of the Israeli elections, not the American government, the king of Morocco or Yasser Arafat,” Netanyahu told parliament.
Netanyahu’s current opponents could of course lodge a similar complaint, except that Netanyahu must travel to Washington now if he wants to affect the emerging deal with Iran, and it’s not been clear that his trip will help his reelection prospects.
Everyone knows the main reason Obama won’t meet with Netanyahu is that he hates him and thinks Netanyahu is trying to undermine his Iran deal, which is true.
But by lighting such a firestorm over the whole thing, Obama has increased the publicity surrounding the appearance and given Netanyahu and even wider audience for his argument.