by Andrew Friedman
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced Monday that he will not attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland next week. No reason was given for the cancellation, but some sources have speculated that Mr. Netanyahu could be planning to attend the inauguration of incoming.S. President-elect Donald J. Trump in Washington DC on January 20.
Foreign media have reported that Mr. Trump invited the prime minister to the festivities.
The cancellation comes against the background of two ongoing police investigations into corruption allegations against the prime minister.
Mr. Netanyahu is suspected of accepting expensive gifts from wealthy patrons, and Hebrew-language Channel 2 television news reported that the prime minister may have closed a deal with Yedioth Aharonoth owner and publisher Arnon “Noni” Mozes in which Mr. Netanyahu allegedly agreed to work to close the Israel Hayom newspaper, the main challenger to Yedioth Aharonoth’s market supremacy, in exchange for a pro-Netanyahu editorial line in Yedioth Aharonoth.
The prime minister and his lawyers have repeatedly denied wrongdoing, but police questioned the prime minister at his official residence under caution twice last week.
Also Monday, Mr. Netanyahu cancelled an appearance before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday, also without explanation. The session was called following a report that Mr. Netanyahu, who also serves as foreign minister, was set to discuss allegations that he failed to convene Israel’s diplomatic corps to craft a unified response to last month’s United Nations Security Council resolution.
Spokespersons for Mr. Netanyahu did not respond to questions about the reasons behind the cancellation, nor to a request for clarification about the prime minister’s assertion Sunday that “We are making a very great effort to prevent another Security Council resolution… this is one effort, but not the only effort that we are making in order to prevent bad resolutions against Israel at the UN.”