Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused a request by European Union Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini to meet in Jerusalem next week, causing her to cancel a planned trip to the country, Hebrew-language news outlets reported Friday.
Mogherini, currently in Jordan, was set to visit the Israeli capital to take part in the American Jewish Committee’s annual Global Forum conference in Jerusalem, which begins Sunday.
But her request to meet with Netanyahu on the sidelines of the conference was turned down, leading her to cancel her trip, the reports said.
EU officials denied the cancellation was tied to Netanyahu telling Haaretz scheduling issues prevented the visit from going forward.
A top diplomatic source told Hadashot TV news that Mogherini “was invited by the conference” and not by Israeli leaders, who thus had no obligation to meet with her. “Her positions are very hostile to Israel,” he added.
Israel and the EU have lately been at loggerheads over the IDF’s handling of mass protests and riots on the Gaza border, as well as over the US decision to unilaterally withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. Israel has also hailed the US relocation of its embassy to Jerusalem last week, a move Europe has rejected and reportedly sought to officially condemn.
Netanyahu has fiercely condemned the European Union for its policies on Israel, including in hot mic comments last year that saw him lash EU leaders for their “crazy” treatment of the Jewish state.
Last month Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, a top Netanyahu ally, slammed the EU, saying the bloc shouldn’t “get involved in internal Israeli matters,” after it called for an investigation of alleged police brutality against Arabs at a demonstration in Haifa.
And last week the EU lashed out at Israel over its decision to build 2,000 new settlement homes and to demolish a Palestinian Bedouin village in the West Bank, saying it undermines “prospects for a lasting peace.”
Netanyahu toured Europe this week, meeting with leaders from Germany, France, and Britain in a bid to rally support for amending the international nuclear deal with Iran and for pushing Iranian forces out of neighboring Syria.