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Netanyahu Won’t Meet US Senate Democrats; Herzog Says No to AIPAC

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has politely declined an invitation to meet with Senate Democrats during his upcoming trip to Washington when he will address the US Congress and the Israeli lobby AIPAC, which holds an annual convention often addressed by heavy hitters from Israel as well as senior US politicians. "Though I greatly appreciate your kind invitation to meet with Democratic Senators, I believe that doing so at this time could compound the misperception of partisanship regarding my upcoming visit," Netanyahu wrote in a letter to Senators Richard Durbin and Dianne Feinstein obtained by Reuters. The two senior Senate Democrats had invited Netanyahu to a closed-door meeting, warning in a letter that making US-Israeli relations into a partisan political issue could have “lasting repercussions.” US Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu to speak to the Congress has caused tensions in the US-Israeli relationship after President Obama said he would not meet Netanyahu because it is too close to the Israeli elections in May 17. Meanwhile, Zionist Union Chairman Isaac Herzog turned down an invitation to travel to Washington next week to address AIPAC, which would have been seen as showing support for Netanyahu’s expected sharp attack on a potential international deal with Iran that will leave Iran with hundreds of centrifuges to enrich uranium.