WASHINGTON – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has turned down a request to meet with a visiting Congressional delegation that included DFL Rep. Betty McCollum.
The snub is unusual given that last month Netanyahu delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress that was interrupted by over two dozen standing ovations.
McCollum’s office confirmed the story, which was first reported in the Israeli media.
The St. Paul congresswoman is in the Middle East all week on a trip sponsored by the liberal Jewish group J Street, which has been extremely critical of Netanyahu’s policies and advocates for a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
An Israeli news report says that Netanyahu has a policy of refusing to meet U.S. lawmakers who visit Israel on J Street-sponsored events.
Traveling with McCollum are fellow Reps. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Sam Farr (D-CA), Steve Cohen (D-TN) and John Yarmuth (D-KY).
In addition to Israel, the trip included a two day visit to Cairo to meet with Egypt’s new leaders. The delegation, which includes four other Democrats, will also visit the West Bank and Gaza before returning to the U.S. on Friday.
McCollum’s office promised to release a full statement about the incident shortly.
This is McCollum’s second visit to the Middle East this year. In February, she traveled to Yemen.