Netanyahu cancels UN address to oversee efforts to form new government

Netanyahu was also to have met with President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the U.N. proceedings.

By World Israel News Staff 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called off his trip to New York, where he was to address the annual opening of the U.N. General Assembly next week.

Netanyahu will instead stay in Israel as negotiations take place on forming a new government in the aftermath of Tuesday’s Knesset election.

His Likud party trails Blue and White by a couple of seats in parliament, according to nearly complete election results reported early Thursday afternoon.

Both factions are trying to form a governing parliamentary coalition, and both Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz have called for a unity government.

The prime minister is to be replaced at the U.N. event by Foreign Minister Israel Katz.

Netanyahu has addressed the General Assembly opening almost every year since the beginning of his second term as prime minister in 2009.

Iran has been at the center of a number of his speeches, with the prime minister having dramatically used a diagram to explain the development of an Iranian nuclear program, and taking on the international community with his opposition to the 2015 Iran nuclear accord reached between Tehran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council as well as Germany.

Israel has been placed to speak at the General Assembly gathering on September 26. Earlier the same day, Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas is to address the event.

Netanyahu was to have met with U.S. President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the U.N. proceedings.

Trump had tweeted that he would be meeting Netanyahu to discuss an Israel-U.S. defense pact, one of the achievements that the prime minister had been promoting in the days before the Knesset election.

Israeli officials also intend to keep a watchful eye over whether a U.S.-Iranian encounter takes place at the event, perhaps even between Trump and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.