White House Disputes Report That U.S. Stopped Issuing Visas to Israeli Scientists

The White House is disputing a report from one of Israel's leading newspapers that claims the Obama administration is denying visas to Israeli nuclear scientists.

The Israeli newspaper, Maariv, reported this week that the Obama administration has stopped issuing visas to scientists working at a nuclear research center in Dimona, citing a professor who doesn't work at the center.

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said Saturday in an e-mail to FoxNews.com that "the story is wrong."

Zeev Alfasi, the head of Nuclear Engineering at Ben-Gurion University in the Negev, also told Maariv that the U.S. has stopped selling nuclear-related materials to the research center, forcing it to buy items, such as radiation detectors, from France.

The report came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called off his planned trip to Washington next week to attend a conference on the spread of nuclear weapons.

Israeli officials said Netanyahu reversed himself because he feared some nations planned to use the conference to target Israel over its barely concealed nuclear weapons program.

The Maariv report prompted the Republican Jewish Coalition to express concern and call on the Obama administration to "cancel any policy of discrimination against Israeli nuclear scientists and to restore the traditional friendship and cooperation that have characterized the U.S.-Israel relationship."

"This would seem to be another example of the unprecedented, harsh, and hostile posture the Obama administration has adopted toward Israel," RJC Executive Director Matthew Brooks said in a written statement.

"President Obama continues to extend a friendly hand to Mideast dictatorships like Iran and Syria, while slapping our most important strategic ally there – and fellow democracy – in the face."

The new controversy comes as a new survey shows that a majority of U.S. Jews approve of Obama administration's handling of U.S.-Israel relations.

The American Jewish Committee poll showed 55 percent approve and 37 percent disapprove. At the same time, 57 percent approve of the Netanyahu government's handling of U.S.-Israel relations while 30 percent disapprove.