The White House has already made clear there will be no formal meetings when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in Washington next week. Now, White House spokesman Josh Earnest says there are no plans even for informal interactions between the prime minister and two top administration officials attending a pro-Israel conference.
Amid tension between the Obama administration and Netanyahu over nuclear negotiations with Iran, the White House was initially unclear about whether it would even send a representatives to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's three-day annual conference starting Sunday.
On Thursday, the White House announced that National Security Adviser Susan Rice – who recently called Netanyahu’s acceptance of an invitation to speak before a joint session of Congress “destructive” to the fabric of the U.S.-Israeli relationship – and United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power will attend the conference.
TheBlaze asked Friday whether Power or Rice would interact with Netanyahu privately or in an informal meeting at the conference.
“I’m not aware of anything like that that is planned right now. I don’t think so,” Earnest said.
President Barack Obama has declined to meet with Netanyahu while he in Washington, citing the close proximity to the March 17 Israeli election. Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry will be traveling abroad when Netanyahu is in the United States.
Asked whether Rice and Power would avoid an interaction with Netanyahu, Earnest responded, “I don’t know that they are going to be there at the same time.”
“I haven’t seen the entire itinerary for the day as it were, at least for the roster of speakers and when they are going to speak,” Earnest said. “But I don’t know of any sort of informal meeting on the sidelines at the AIPAC convention.”
The AIPAC schedule does not list the time each speaker will talk. An AIPAC spokesperson did not immediately respond to inquiries from TheBlaze as to whether the Israeli prime minister would be at the conference on the same day as the two administration officials.
Obama himself spoke at the AIPAC conference in 2012 and 2011. Biden spoke at the conference in 2009. Administration officials from the current and previous administration typically attend the conference.