Obama Avoids Meeting With Benjamin Netanyahu: US - Israel Tension over Iran
In a highly unusual rebuff to a close ally, the White House said on Tuesday that President Barack Obama would not meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a US visit later this month, as tensions escalated over how to deal with Iran's nuclear program. The apparent snub, coupled with Netanyahu's sharpened demands for a tougher US line against Iran, threatened to plunge US-Israeli relations into crisis and add pressure on Obama in the final stretch of a tight presidential election campaign. An Israeli official, who declined to be identified, said the White House had refused Netanyahu's request to meet Obama when the Israeli leader visits the United States to attend the UN General Assembly, telling the Israelis, "The president's schedule will not permit that." White House spokesman Tommy Vietor denied that Netanyahu's request had been spurned, insisting instead that the two leaders were attending the General Assembly on different days and would not be in New York at the same time. Netanyahu has had a strained relationship with Obama, but they have met on all but one of his US trips since 2009. The president was on a foreign visit when the prime minister came to the United States in November 2010. By withholding a meeting, the Democratic president could alienate some Jewish and pro-Israel voters as he seeks a second term in the November 6 election. Republican rival Mitt Romney has already accused Obama of being too tough on Israel and not hard enough on Iran. The <b>...</b>
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