Prime Minister Benjamin will not meet with Pope Francis I this week, a diplomatic source told the French news agency AFP Sunday.
Last Wednesday, Netanyahu’s office issued a statement announcing that the prime minister would be meeting with the pope at the Vatican this Wednesday and separately with Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome to discuss nuclear talks with Iran and the ongoing peace talks with the Palestinians.
However, the AFP source said that there were no plans for the meeting, pointing out that meetings with the pope typically had to be scheduled further in advance.
Netanyahu’s office declined a request for a comment.
The meeting would have been Netanyahu’s first with the current pope, who met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas last Thursday at the Vatican and with President Shimon Peres in April. Netanyahu met with the previous pope, Benedict XVI, in 2009, as well as with Pope John Paul II in 1997.
Abbas and Peres both invited the pontiff to Israel and the Palestinian territories, and Francis has said he would like to visit the Middle East.
Israel’s Channel 2 reported last Sunday that the pope had scheduled a trip for March, but the Vatican has yet to confirm that that’s the case.