Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA) led 128 Members of Congress in a letter calling on President Barack Obama to accept a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu during the Israeli leader's upcoming visit to the United States.
Media reports indicate that the White House declined a meeting request extended by the Prime Minister's Office even as the top Israeli expressed willingness to divert his brief visit to accommodate the President's schedule.
"Israel is our closest ally in the Middle East and one of our most vital partners in the world," said Kingston. "For President Obama to decline such a meeting request is disturbing and illustrates a lack of regard for the indispensable relationship between our countries. Especially in light of recent attacks against Americans abroad, the President should be focused on strengthening our relationship with such an important, peace-loving county to advance our shared interests of stability and prosperity. Failure to do so could embolden extremists in the region and encourage Iran's pursuit of nuclear capabilities."
Cosigners of the letter include Reps. Adams, Akin, Alexander, Amodei, Bachmann, Barletta, Bartlett, Barton, Bass, Benishek, Bilirakis, Rob Bishop, Black, Bono Mack, Brady, Bucshon, Buerkle, Burgess, Burton, Calvert, Campbell, Canseco, Carter, Cassidy, Chabot, Coble, Cole, Conaway, Cravaack, Crawford, Culberson, Denham, DesJarlais, Duncan, Ellmers, Farenthold, Fincher, Fleischmann, Fleming, Franks, Gingrey, Gohmert, Goodlatte, Gosar, Gowdy, Tom Graves, Griffin, Guthrie, Hall, Harper, Harris, Hartzler, Hastings, Hultgren, Hunter, Jenkins, Bill Johnson, Jordan, Kelly, Steve King, Kingston, Kinznger, Lamborn, Lance, Lankford, Latta, LoBiondo, Long, Luetkemeyer, Lummis, Lungren, Mack, Marino, McClintock, McHenry, McKinley, McMorris Rodgers, Gary Miller, Myrick, Neugebauer, Noem, Nugent, Nunnelee, Palazzo, Pearce, Pence, Pitts, Poe, Pompeo, Posey, Tom Price, Rehberg, Reichert, Renacci, Ribble, Rivera, Roe, Rokita, Dennis Ross, Scalise, Schilling, Schmidt, Schweikert, Austin Scott, Tim Scott, Sensenbrenner, Sessions, Simpson, Adrian Smith, Lamar Smith, Stearns, Stivers, Stutzman, Tiberi, Tipton, Michael Turner, Robert Turner, Walberg, Walsh, West, Westmoreland, Joe Wilson, Womack, Yoder, C.W. Bill Young, Don Young, and Todd Young.
The text of the letter reads:
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Dear Mr. President,
We are writing to urge you in the strongest terms to accept Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's request to meet with you during his visit to the United States this month. We are astounded by your refusal to grant this request to one of our closest allies at such a critical time for that region. The rejection of this request represents disturbing treatment of a vital partner and illustrates a lack of regard for the indispensable relationship between the United States and Israel and the current dynamics in the region which are essential to our national security.
The United States and Israel have nurtured a unique and vital relationship since their independence on May 14, 1948. The United States must engage very closely with Israel at every level -- now more than ever. Your unwillingness or "lack of time in your schedule" to provide critical national leadership and to maintain vital high level communication channels between our countries in the face of potential military engagement is extraordinarily irresponsible and sends the wrong signal to the international community and our closest ally. Their geographical location within the Middle East makes them a key player to the United States and regional stability. In this time of uncertainty and advancing nuclearization of Iran, Israel deserves a strong and loyal ally.
Whether the excuse is a scheduling conflict or lack of communication, there is no excuse for ignoring a world leader. We urge you to immediately accept the request to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu.