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U.S. Republican Mitt Romney (L) meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, July 29, 2012.(Photo by: JASON REED/REUTERS)
Netanyahu not meeting Romney due to Passover vacation, PMO says
Netanyahu, well attuned to the importance of US legislators, generally meets all senators, congressmen and governors who visit Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not be meeting with US Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and two other senators currently in the country, with his office explaining that Netanyahu is spending the Passover holiday vacationing in the North with his family.

The prime minister, well attuned to the importance of US legislators, routinely meets every senator, representative and governor visiting Israel.

Some have speculated that Netanyahu avoided meeting Romney, whom he has known since 1976, so as not to antagonize US President Donald Trump. Romney has emerged as one of Trump’s sharpest critics among Senate Republicans. Though Romney has said he will not mount a primary challenge against the president, not everyone is convinced.

The Prime Minister’s Office said that Netanyahu will speak with Romney by phone.

On Saturday, Trump went after Romney on Twitter, after the Utah senator reacted to the redacted report issued by special counsel Robert Mueller dealing with Russia’s meddling in the 2016 elections by saying that he was “sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the president.”

Trump tweeted in response that if Romney would have spent the same energy fighting Barack Obama in his unsuccessful presidential bid in 2012 as he has in fighting Trump, “he could have won the race [maybe].”

The non-meeting between Netanyahu and Romney contrasted with a warm meeting the two had in Jerusalem in July 2012, in the heat of Romney’s campaign against Obama. Netanyahu was accused at the time of trying to help Romney in the campaign.

“Governor Romney, Mitt, it is a pleasure to welcome you to Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said of the former Massachusetts governor at the start of that meeting in 2012. “We have known each other for many decades. You have been a personal friend of mine, and a strong friend of the State of Israel. That is why it is a pleasure to welcome you here.”

Netanyahu’s relationship with Romney dates from 1976 when they both worked at the Boston Consulting Group.

Romney was elected to the Senate in November. This is his first trip abroad as a senator, traveling, in his capacity as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to Israel and Jordan with his Democratic colleague, Chris Murphy from Connecticut. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) is also in the country this week.

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