Arab envoys decline Dermer’s push to attend Netanyahu’s Congress speech


(JTA) — Israel’s ambassador to the United States could not convince his counterparts from at least two Arab countries to attend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress.

Ron Dermer sent emails to the ambassadors of Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates encouraging them to be on hand for the March 3 speech because of their “common interest” in thwarting a nuclear deal with Iran, Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic reported Wednesday.

Those countries, both with Sunni Muslim majorities, and other Arab Gulf states view the Shiite-led Iran as an enemy, but would not allow themselves to be used as props in Netanyahu’s address, Goldberg reported.

The news comes less than a day after Netanyahu wrote to decline an invitation from Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the second ranked Democrat in the Senate, and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top-ranked Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, to meet privately with the chamber’s Democratic caucus in part to clear away bad feelings about his congressional address.

“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,” Netanyahu wrote.

Also Tuesday, U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice called the upcoming speech “destructive” to the U.S. -Israel relationship.

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