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Netanyahu Refuses To Meet With Senate Democrats

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu turned down an invitation to meet with Senate Democrats during his contentious trip to Washington, D.C. next week.

Sens. Dick Durbin and Dianne Feinstein invited him to a closed-door meeting with Senate Democrats in a letter Monday, which warned him not to make Israel’s relationship with the U.S. a partisan political issue. He refused their request Tuesday, saying a meeting with them would appear partisan.

“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 in a letter to Durbin and Feinstein obtained by Reuters.

House Speaker John Boehner ticked off Democrats when he invited Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress about the threat posed by Iran without consulting President Barack Obama or House and Senate leadership. The speech comes a few weeks before Israeli elections and at a critical point in negotiations with Iran. (RELATED: Obama’s Top Election Aide Now Working To Defeat Netanyahu)

“There has now been injected a degree of partisanship, which is not only unfortunate,” White House national security adviser Susan Rice said Tuesday. “I think it’s destructive of the fabric of the relationship.”

Despite pressure from Democrats and in Israel, Netanyahu has stuck by his decision to accept Boehner’s invitation, saying he has an important message American needs to hear. In the letter Tuesday, he said he “wholeheartedly” agrees the U.S.-Israeli relationship must remain bipartisan, and regrets that his address is perceived as a partisan issue.

“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 wrote.

A group of Arab ambassadors have refused Netanyahu’s own invitation to attend the address, reported The Atlantic, and more than 20 Democrats plan to boycott the speech. (RELATED: Charlie Rangel To Benjamin Netanyahu: Meet Me By The Bike Racks After School)

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