White House scrambles to contain controversy over Netanyahu snub claims

The White House moved Tuesday to tamp down emerging claims that it had turned down an offer by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet with President Obama later this month, with the two leaders talking by phone as Republicans seized on the reports.

Israeli officials confirmed to Fox News earlier in the day that the White House had indeed brushed off such an offer. A White House spokesman also confirmed that Obama is not expected to meet with Netanyahu, citing scheduling conflicts.

But late Tuesday, the White House released a statement denying that any formal offer was made for a meeting in the capital — without saying whether an offer was made for a meeting elsewhere, like New York. “Contrary to reports in the press, there was never a request for Prime Minister Netanyahu to meet with President Obama in Washington, nor was a request for a meeting ever denied,” the statement said.

The White House went on to say that Obama had just gotten off an hour-long phone call with the prime minister “as a part of their ongoing consultations,” and that the two discussed the Iranian nuclear threat.

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