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Italys foreign Minister Federica Mogherini speaks as she delivers a joint statement with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during their meeting in Jerusalem on July 16..(Photo by: REUTERS)
PM can’t find time for Mogherini; EU foreign policy chief cancels trip
Mogherini was originally scheduled to address the forum on Monday.
In a sign of the increasingly fraught relationship between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, Netanyahu could not find time this week to meet Mogherini, who was scheduled to address the American Jewish Committee’s Global Forum meeting in Jerusalem.

Mogherini was originally scheduled to address the forum on Monday, but – according to a Channel 2 report – canceled when it became clear there would be no meeting with Netanyahu.

The Jerusalem Post was told the failure of Netanyahu to meet Mogherini was because of “scheduling problems.”

Netanyahu, however, has shown he is able to squeeze into his schedule those he wants to meet. For instance, although he flew back to Israel from Europe Thursday afternoon, he was able to find time to meet both the Latvian and Irish foreign ministers in his office that evening.

One diplomatic source noted that the EU foreign policy head was invited by the AJC, and not by the government.

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Mogherini is currently in Jordan, and a spokeswoman for her said that she had “looked into the possibility of expanding this visit to Jerusalem, where she was invited to speak at the American Jewish Committee. For agenda reasons, it turned out that this was not possible.”

The spokeswoman added: “We believe that is important to talk, because there are many important issues in the region to discuss, including Iran.” She said that Mogherini was “looking forward to returning to the region in the near future.”

The two last met in Brussels in December, when Netanyahu attended a meeting of all the EU foreign ministers.

Mogherini has been sharply critical in recent months of the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem, US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal, Israel’s responses to the riots along the Gaza border fence and recent announcements of settlement construction plans.

This is not the first time that differences between Israel and the EU have impaired communications between the two. In December 2015, after the EU issued a directive to label products from the settlements, Netanyahu directed the Foreign Ministry to suspend contact with the EU on the Middle East peace process, pending a reassessment of relations with EU institutions. That situation lasted for a number of months.

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.
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