Pope Rejects Meeting with Bibi in Rome
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will not be meeting with Pope Francis during his visit to Rome on Wednesday, a diplomatic source told AFP on Sunday.
A statement last week from Netanyahu’s office had said he would be "meeting Pope Francis next Wednesday at the Vatican" and with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for updates on nuclear talks with Iran and negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
A diplomatic source on Sunday told AFP, however, that no such meeting with Pope Francis will be taking place. The source noted that audiences with the Pope must be arranged sufficiently in advance.
A spokesman for Netanyahu refused to comment on the matter. This was to be Netanyahu's first meeting with Pope Francis.
On Thursday, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas met with the pope and invited him to the Middle East. Israeli President Shimon Peres also invited Pope Francis during a visit earlier this year.
Francis has said he would like to travel to the Middle East, but the Vatican has not confirmed the trip, despite a report by Israel's Channel 2 television that it will take place in March.
Abbas is the fourth Middle East leader to have met Pope Francis after Peres, Lebanese President Michel Sleiman and King Abdullah of Jordan.