The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is refuting a White House claim that Netanyahu "surprised" the Obama administration by cancelling his planned visit to Washington.

The Israeli Prime Minister's Office said Tuesday that Israel's ambassador to the U.S. informed the White House last week there was a "good chance" Netanyahu would not make the trip.

Netanyahu's office says he was invited to address the pro-Israel group AIPAC but decided not to travel to Washington at the height of U.S. presidential primaries.

An Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly, said Netanyahu wanted to avoid meetings with presidential candidates.

The spat comes amid tense relations with U.S. President Obama in the last years of his presidency.