MK Yoni Chetboun (Bayit Yehudi) on Thursday appealed directly to U.S. President Barack Obama, asking him to change his decision to exclude students of the Ariel University from his speech in Jerusalem.
Earlier this week it was reported that Obama’s staff had invited students from universities throughout Israel to the President’s speech in Jerusalem’s Binyanei Hauma convention center, but did not invite students from Ariel University in Samaria.
Chetboun questioned the decision to exclude Ariel students, particularly in light of Obama’s decision not to speak in Knesset, and wrote to U.S. ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro in protest. However, when the ambassador failed to respond to the letter, Chetboun chose to appeal directly to the president.
“I was very disappointed to hear about your decision not to address the Knesset ... However, you reasoned this by saying you wished to give a speech which is not political,” wrote Chetboun. “But it is for that very reason that I do not understand your decision not to invite students from Ariel ... this decision is taking a political stance, unilateral in nature, exactly like the move you wished to avoid.”
He expressed hope that “as a public servant who was elected by Israelis from across Israel, including Judea and Samaria, that the decision was made by your advisers and not yourself.”
Chetboun concluded his letter by writing, “Mr. President, I urge you to reverse your decision and invite representatives from the Ariel University to your speech in Jerusalem. Please, respect the decision of the Israeli government and cancel the boycott...This is an important step to strengthen the friendship between the two countries and it is very significant, especially in light of the challenges of the times.”