Despite receiving a warm reception from Congress recently, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to meet with a U.S. delegation that included Congressman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., in a visit initiated by a liberal lobbying group.
The meeting was planned by J Street, a pro-Israel lobbying group that has been critical of the country’s settlement policies in the West Bank and advocates a two-state solution.
Yarmuth was joined by four other Democratic colleagues during the overseas trip this week, but says he doesn’t view Netanyahu’s decision to not meet with the delegation as a snub.
“I was asked today by a journalist if I was offended and I said I was not, I just considered it a missed opportunity for them and us,” says Yarmuth. “Also said I thought it would useful for Netanyahu to hear that while his reception in Congress was a reflection of broad support for Israel, it was not an endorsement of every Israeli government policy.”
From YNet News:
The organizers attempted to arrange meetings with Netanyahu ahead of time, however they were turned down due to alleged schedule conflicts.
Organizers claim this is an excuse, stating that the actual reason is due to Netanyahu’s government policy, which bans meetings with US legislators brought here by J Street.
The foreign minister’s office stated that the delegation “did not submit a formal request but were only checking the possibility, and due to schedule conflicts the meeting was not held.”
J Street has also endorsed President Barack Obama’s speech outlining a change to relations between Israel and Palestine, saying it represents a new diplomatic initiative. The foreign policy shift has been criticized as a betrayal to Israel by Mr. Obama’s opponents.
Though it won’t include a sitdown with Netanyahu, Yarmuth’s visit to the Middle East will reportedly include meetings with Egypt’s military leader and foreign minister, members of the Israeli parliament and with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.