Jerusalem: A visiting delegation of US congressmen expressed "surprise and disappointment" on Wednesday after accusing Israel`s controversial Deputy Foreign Minister of trying to block their access to top officials.
"In our opinion this is an inappropriate way to treat elected representatives of Israel`s closest ally who are visiting the country," William Delahunt, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said in a statement.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, from the far-right Israel Beiteinu party, has been at the centre of several diplomatic spats in recent months over his heavy-handed approach to those he perceives as anti-Israel.
Delahunt said Ayalon apparently tried to stop the delegation meeting senior officials in the Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister`s Office because the trip had been organised by the new and dovish pro-Israel lobby J-Street.
Delahunt said he was "puzzled" that Ayalon was "questioning either our own support of Israel or that we would even consider travelling to the region with groups that the Deputy Foreign Minister has so inaccurately described as `anti-Israel.`"
Ayalon`s office later released a statement saying "the Foreign Ministry is always happy to welcome members of the American Congress and we would be glad to organise meetings with all members of the Israeli government."
In January, Ayalon was forced to apologise to Turkish Ambassador Oguz Celikkol for giving him an angry dressing down in front of cameras to protest a Turkish television series portraying Mossad agents as baby snatchers.