(photo credit: Courtesy)
An MK from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's own Likud Party called Tuesday on his fellow legislators to boycott the annual American Independence Day celebration at US Ambassador James Cunningham's home.
The annual reception, held at the ambassador's Herzliya Pituah residence, was described by at least one lawmaker as "a see-and-be-seen event," to which politicians usually flock.
But this year, said MK Danny Danon who wrote the letter calling on other legislators to stay away from the gathering, "the majority of coalition members will not attend."
Danon said he was certain most of his fellow Likud members would be absent, as would representatives from Shas. A number of MKs from his own party, he said, already approached him in the hours after the letter was sent to tell him they would not attend.
"There is a certain air of bitterness these days - whether it was the picture of [US President Barack] Obama with his shoes up on the table while he spoke with the prime minister or the statement by [US Envoy George] Mitchell that Israeli 'doesn't stop lying' - there is a certain mood and style in Washington that makes it hard to go and celebrate," Danon explained.
The event is scheduled for Wednesday evening at eight, and Netanyahu is planning to attend. A number of Likud MKs weren't sure Tuesday whether or not their chairman would oppose or approve their decision to avoid the event.
Danon's call came hours before sources close to Defense Minister Ehud Barak revealed he had failed in his attempt to reach an agreement with the Americans regarding the future of the settlements.
"American independence is the model for western nations, including for Israel. As the Americans would rise up against any attempt of outside involvement in their internal affairs, so too will Israel ignore all types of involvement on the part of America and others," said Danon.
"The statements recently heard by representatives of the American government regarding Israel's commitment to stop building in Judea and Samaria, including natural growth, and the statements that accuse Israel of lying over the years to the White House, seriously damage Israel's honor. I call upon MKs to boycott the event at the ambassador's house, to deliver to the American administration a clear message - that the State of Israel is independent and not President Obama's pet."
In his letter, Danon argued that it was America that "was trying to call into question the State of Israel's independence."
In response, US Embassy spokesman Stuart Tuttle said, "We hope that everyone who was invited to our celebration was able to and chooses to attend.
"The Fourth of July is a time to celebrate the many links that US and Israel have, and I hope that Israelis are just as proud to help us celebrate as we are to celebrate Israeli Independence Day."