Two prominent Senate Democrats invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to sit down with their caucus while he’s in town next week — he said thanks, but no thanks.
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) extended the invite to the prime minister on Monday in a letter first reported by Bloomberg.
Netanyahu accepting the invitation to address a joint session of Congress, they wrote, “sacrifices deep and well-established cooperation on Israel for short-term partisan points — something that should never be done with Israeli security and which we feel could have lasting repercussions.”
“To maintain Israel’s dialogue with both political parties in Congress, we invite you to a closed-door meeting with Democratic senators during your upcoming visit to Washington,” Durbin and Feinstein wrote. “We believe such a venue would be a wholly appropriate opportunity to discuss the range of issues that face our two countries.”
Reuters obtained the decline, which wasn’t released publicly by Netanyahu’s office.
“Though I greatly appreciate your kind invitation to meet with Democratic Senators, I believe that doing so at this time could compound the misperception of partisanship regarding my upcoming visit,” he wrote.
Netanyahu stressed that he agreed “wholeheartedly” of the bipartisan foundation for strong U.S.-Israel ties. “I also fully understand the importance of bipartisan support for ensuring that our alliance remains strong in the future,” he wrote.
“I can assure you my sole intention in accepting it was to voice Israel’s grave concerns about a potential nuclear agreement with Iran that could threaten the survival of my country.”
Netanyahu said he’d be happy to meet with senators when all of them are welcome in the meeting room.