Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is leaving Canada to fly home to oversee the flotilla crisis, instead of flying to Washington to meet U.S. President Barack Obama. The decision was announced moments after foreign media reported that the Prime Minister would continue his trip as scheduled.
Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke by telephone with President Obama and "told him about the circumstances that have compelled him to bring forward his return to Israel," government spokesmen said. "The two leaders decided to set a new meeting at a later date and agreed that their professional teams would be in close contact regarding the latest events and developments in the region.
The Prime Minister landed in Canada on Friday for a four-day visit that included a meeting with Canada’s Jewish community and his Canadian counterpart, Stephen Harper, a staunch supporter of Israel.
Prime Minister Netanyahu was scheduled to meet with President Obama on Tuesday, presumably regarding the “proximity talks” and the recent United Nations draft resolution for a nuclear-free Mideast, which the United States did not block. Israel was outraged by the American position, which overturned a 40-year unwritten agreement not to press Israel on its nuclear capability on condition that the Jewish State does not carry out nuclear tests.
Before the cancellation of the White House meeting, government spokesman Mark Regev told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. in an interview from Israel, "It's very important that we sit down with friends and allies and discuss issues of mutual concern, and there are plans to continue on to Washington, to that planned meeting with President Obama.”
However, the international protest, fueled by Turkey over the violent clash with Muslim extremists on the high seas, forced Prime Minister Netanyahu to return home and lead the diplomatic and media response to anti-Israel onslaught.
Obama invited Netanyahu to meet with him in Washington this Tuesday, following his humiliation of the Israel leader during his previous visit to the American capital two months ago. Obama refused to be seen with Netanyahu in public or to dine with him, and was was roundly criticized for it.
Netanyahu: Full Backing to Commandos
The Prime Minister said he gave “full backing” to the Navy commandos, who had expected to face assorted peace activists anticipating to present themselves as innocent peaceniks and instead faced attempted murder by armed and trained Muslim leaders of the flotilla.
The death toll on the flotilla was nine and not 19 as originally reported by Arab sources. Most of the dead were from Turkey. Seven Navy commandoes were wounded, and one initially was in critical condition after being thrown more than 10 feet from the ship’s bridge to the deck blow. All of the soldiers' injuries now are listed as light to moderate.