Amid the controversy regarding his participation in this year’s torch-lighting ceremony, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández announced Monday that he has decided to cancel his trip to Israel. However, he cited “time and logistic constraints” as the reason behind his decision.

Netanyahu and Hernández

Netanyahu and Hernández Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO

On Monday evening, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández said that he has canceled his participation in Israel’s upcoming Independence Day torch-lighting ceremony due to scheduling conflicts, denying the reports claiming that the public debate regarding his plans caused him to rethink his trip.

“This morning, I informed our friend and its government that it will be difficult for me to participate in this special honor they wanted to arrange for me due to time and logistic constraints,” Hernández explained, adding that around the same time of the ceremony, he is supposed to attend an important summit in Peru. On Monday afternoon, the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry announced that Hernández has changed his plans and will not be participating in the celebratory event.

Hernández’s decision comes after the head of the left-wing Meretz party called for the cancelation of his invitation. The MK said that the decision to invite the leader is an excuse intended to enable the participation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In a letter sent to Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, Tamar Zandberg accused the Honduran government of committing serious human rights violations against its citizens. “Honduras is one of the most corrupt and dangerous regimes in the world for its citizens,” Zandberg stated in her letter. “Reports say the civil police, the military police and the Honduran army were involved in a series of serious human rights violations, harassment, torture and extrajudicial killings.”

In response to Zandberg’s letter, Regev, who is in charge of the ceremony, said that “it appears as if Zandberg is a friend of the BDS movement.” Regev added that Zandberg “ruins every party.”