PMO dismisses report that Netanyahu cancelled attendance at Reform confab

PM will appear at confab via satellite; report in Israeli media says he is standing up meeting following Mandela cancellation.

Netanyahu in Russia speaking 370 (photo credit: Koby Gideon/GPO)
Netanyahu in Russia speaking 370
(photo credit: Koby Gideon/GPO)
Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office on Wednesday dismissed as “complete rubbish” a Haaretz report that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, after cancelling plans to attend Nelson Mandela’s memorial service, also stood up the Reform movement at the last minute.
According to the report, in the same week that he decided not to pay tribute to Mandela, Netanyahu also decided to cancel his trip to San Diego, to deliver the keynote at the Biennial Meeting of the Union for Reform Judaism.
According to the report, “the formal decision and announcement that Netanyahu’s speech would be delivered via satellite from Israel, and not in person, was only made Tuesday, just a day before the five-day biennial was scheduled to begin.”
The source said that Netanyahu accepted the invitation to address the delegates to the conference, either in person or via satellite, more than two months ago.
However, at no stage was a commitment made to attend in person, the source said.
According to the source in the Prime Minister Office, it informed the Reform movement in November that he would not be making the trip, as he would not be in the US at the time of the conference, and would therefore deliver his remarks via satellite link.
The conference started on Wednesday, and will run until Sunday; Netanyahu appears on the web site of the event as one of the featured speakers.
He is scheduled to deliver his address on Sunday.
This is the second time in a week that there was confusion about the format of a Netanyahu speech.
The Saban Conference in Washington, over the weekend, billed Netanyahu’s speech there – also via video hookup – as a conversation with PBS newsman Charlie Rose.
The problem, according to the Prime Minister’s Office, is that they never cleared that with Netanyahu’s office, which did not agree to that format.
In the end, Netanyahu delivered a speech without any intermediary.
The reason, according to the Prime Minister’s Office, was simple: US President Barack Obama was “interviewed” at the forum by major Democratic Party contributor, Haim Saban, which ensured him this would not be a hard-hitting interview, and US Secretary of State John Kerry gave a speech without any interviewer.
Netanyahu, therefore, did not feel compelled to have his words interrupted by questions.