‘No offense taken’ after Bibi snubs Obama

Asked whether Netanyahu should’ve told Obama before going to the media, the White House said: ‘It’s just good manners’

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Israel would have shown good manners had it informed the United States directly rather than through the news media that it was turning down a proposed summit meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, the White House said on Tuesday.

But spokesman Josh Earnest said there was “no offense taken” by the decision which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday ascribed to a desire to steer clear of the U.S. presidential election campaign.

It was the latest episode in a fraught relationship between the right-wing Israeli leader and the Democratic U.S. president that has yet to recover from deep differences over last year’s U.S.-led international nuclear deal with Israel’s foe Iran.

The White House said on Monday it had been “surprised” to learn first from Israeli media that Netanyahu had decided against coming to a conference of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC in Washington on March 20, and to see a suggestion in some reports that Obama’s unavailability had been one of the reasons.

It said Netanyahu had been offered a March 18 meeting with Obama, ahead of the president’s landmark visit to Cuba on March 21 and 22.

Asked whether the Netanyahu government should have told the Obama administration before the media, Earnest said on Tuesday, “I think it’s just good manners.”

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