Netanyahu will not meet pope during visit to Rome

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister will not meet with Pope Francis during a visit to Rome this week, as his office had previously announced.

The Prime Minister’s office issued a statement last week saying that Netanyahu would meet with the pope at the Vatican on Wednesday and during the same trip meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome to discuss the peace talks with the Palestinians, Iran, Syria, and other issues of mutual concern.

But the Vatican reportedly never was asked to schedule a meeting, and due to complex and conservative Vatican protocol cannot schedule a visit with one week’s notice, which is insulting, Haaretz reported.

On Sunday, the Vatican officially informed the Israeli ambassador to the Vatican, Zion Evrony, that a meeting could not be scheduled this week between Netanyahu and the pope.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met earlier this month with the pope in Rome.

The pope has expressed an interest in visiting Israel, though no date has been set.