Netanyahu to address Reform biennial via satellite

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to speak to the biennial meeting of the Union for Reform Judaism via satellite.

The announcement was made Tuesday, a day before the start of the conference, which is scheduled to run through Dec. 15 in San Diego, Haaretz reported.

“Although he had planned on being with us in person, the press of urgent business will keep Prime Minister Netanyahu in Israel,” read a letter sent to conference participants, Haaretz reported. “He has canceled his entire U.S. trip, and will join us live, via satellite, from Jerusalem.”

Netanyahu will deliver prepared remarks and answer questions emailed prior to the event.

An official in the prime minister’s office told JTA that Netanyahu had never promised to appear in person.

“The URJ  leadership was informed in November that the PM would not be in the USA at the time of the conference and would therefore deliver his remarks via a satellite link,” the official said.

This week, Netanyahu also declined to travel to the memorial service on Tuesday in Johannesburg for Nelson Mandela, citing the high cost of travel and security.

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