Netanyahu cancels trip to Copenhagen climate conference
Premier cites high cost of room and board for large Israeli delegation, including his security detail.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has canceled his planned trip next week to the Copenhagen summit on climate change.
Aides to Netanyahu said the reason for the cancellation was the high expense that would be borne by the taxpayer.
Summit organizers foot the bill for hosting heads of state and an entourage that is limited to six individuals. However, due to the extensive security detail that accompanies visiting prime ministers, Netanyahu aides said the cost for the visit would be excessive.
Sources close to the premier added that conference organizers required that the Israeli delegation reserve hotel rooms for a minimum of one week, while Netanyahu had no intention of staying in Copenhagen for longer than two nights.
In such a scenario, dozens of hotel rooms would remain empty and paid for at a cost of tens of thousands of euros.
Netanyahu's bureau added that the premier's tight schedule precluded a prolonged stay in Copenhagen.
The prime minister spoke with President Shimon Peres on Wednesday afternoon, suggesting that he take part in the Copenhagen summit due to the importance Israel attaches to protecting the environment and promoting renewable sources of energy.
Netanyahu's request of Peres is odd considering that the president was initially designated as Israel's representative to the summit.
At the premier's request, Peres last week stepped aside to allow Netanyahu to lead the Israeli delegation. Now the prime minister is reversing course.
In the last week, Netanyahu aides have wavered back and forth as to whether the prime minister would travel to the summit. At one point, the premier attributed his hesitation to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's presence at the event.