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Thousands of Israeli intellectuals urge Biden, UNSG not to meet Netanyahu at UNGA

Netanyahu will be in NYC for the UN General Assembly

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greets UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres during their meeting in Jerusalem August 28, 2017. (Photo: REUTERS/Heidi Levine/Pool)

Some 3,500 Israeli academics, writers, artists, former diplomats and other public figures sent a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden and UN Sec.-Gen. Antonio Guterres on Friday, urging them not to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the General Assembly in New York, the Times of Israel reported.

“Inviting Mr. Netanyahu to speak at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) will grant symbolic power and political leverage to a cynical populist who strives to establish an autocratic regime when institutions of democracy are under attack worldwide,” the letter stated.

“Giving this supreme artist of doublespeak and fakery a respectable venue will allow Mr. Netanyahu to rehabilitate his damaged international status. This is precisely what he so desperately seeks, to use the honorable institution of the UN as the stage of his verbal trickery,” the signatories wrote.

They also accused Netanyahu of “legitimizing racist, ultranationalist, religious fundamentalist and homophobic political parties that until now operated at the margins of Israel’s political discourse — and this solely for the purpose of his political survival.”

The Prime Minister’s Office on Sunday announced Netanyahu’s official itinerary while in the U.S., which does not include the long-delayed meeting with Biden in the White House.

Netanyahu is expected to arrive in San Francisco, California on Sept. 17, and continue to New York the following day. He will return to Israel five days later, on Sept. 24, without having made an official visit to Washington.

Instead, the much-anticipated meeting is expected to take place on the sidelines of the UNGA instead of at the White House, a decision being seen as an additional snub after the Biden administration waited months before inviting Netanyahu to meet.

The letter's signatories include author David Grossman, Hagai Levine, head of the White Coats doctors protest group, and mathematician Oded Goldreich, the 2022 Israel Prize winner.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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