Senior Official: Netanyahu Would Meet Clinton, Trump if Asked

No meeting is slated for Netanyahu, who is in New York for the UN General Assembly, and the U.S. presidential candidates. But the prime minister would agree to meet both of them if an invitation is extended, a senior official says.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (L) and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (R).Reuters

New York - Netanyahu has not been asked by U.S. presidential candidates, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, to meet during his stay in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, a senior official in his entourage said. But if such an invitation is extended, the official said, the prime minister would accept it.

On Tuesday, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi, also in New York for the UN's annual gathering, held two seperate meetings with Clinton and Trump. During the meetings, the two candidates presented their positions concerning the Middle East, and Egypt specifically.

Netanyahu has made it his policy in recent months that Israel would maintain absolute balance in its contacts with the two candidates in the White House race. Netanyahu, who in 2012 acted in a way that was perceived as him interfering on behalf of nominee Mitt Romney and against the incumbent president, Barack Obama, is interested in avoiding giving even the slightest impression of interference.

"The prime minister's instruction was clear – if we meet with one side, we must also meet with the other side," the senior official said. "We are following the number of meetings to make sure that one side doesn't get more meetings than the other."

The official noted that when, two months ago, David Friedman, Trump's advisor on Israel affairs, asked to meet with Netanyahu's aides in Jerusalem, his request was granted, but at the same time the Prime Minister's Bureau asked the Clinton campaign to set up a meeting with one of her advisers.