The White House has been trying to coordinate a meeting between President Barack Obama and his Israeli counterpart, Reuven Rivlin, in what is seen as an effort to get back at Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for his planned speech before Congress in March – a speech that was not coordinated with the White House.
Channel 2 News reported that there have been formal contacts between Israel and the US in the last few days in an attempt to coordinate a meeting between Obama and Rivlin – who has a tense relationship with Netanyahu.
The meeting failed to materialize because of scheduling problems, but it was decided that the two leaders would speak on the phone and that Rivlin will coordinate a visit to Washington for another date.
Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have said they will not meet Netanyahu when he visits, so as not to appear to be influencing the Israeli election.
Netanyahu did all he could to prevent Rivlin from being elected president and is believed to fear that Rivlin would rather give Labor's Yitzhak Herzog the first chance to form a coalition after the March elections.
The White House said Thursday evening that President Obama will not meet Prime Minister Netanyahu when he visits Washington in early March.
The decision, said the White House, is in line with US policy not to meet foreign leaders on dates that are close to national elections in their countries.
"The president will not be meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu because of the proximity to the Israeli election," said National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan.