Israeli Leader Cancels Plans To Attend Nelson Mandela Memorial Service

The Dalai Lama also won't attend

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Debbie Hill / Xinhua Press / Corbis

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the press following his meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry at Ben-Gurion airport near Tel Aviv, Nov. 8, 2013.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cancelled plans to attend memorial events for the late South African leader Nelson Mandela, citing travel and security costs, Israeli media reported Sunday.

Netanyahu, whose spending habits have recently come under fire, cited costs of about $2 million to travel to South Africa for the memorial, Haaretz reports.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Dalai Lama said Sunday that he won’t travel to South Africa either, AFP reports. It wasn’t immediately clear why, but the Dalai Lama has been visas to visit the country twice since 2009.

Recent reports have revealed that Netanyahu used almost $1 million in taxpayers’ money for upkeep on his three residences last year. Tuesday’s memorial service for the late former South African president and anti-apartheid leader is expected to draw up to 80,000 people, including more than 50 world leaders. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will be in attendance, along with Bill and Hillary Clinton. Security concerns in the large stadium where the memorial is taking place mean Obama and other world leaders are likely to observe from behind bulletproof glass, the Associated Press reports.

Mandela’s burial is planned for Dec. 15 in his childhood village of Qunu.