NFL player pulls out of Israel trip, feels 'used'

Posted at 2:08 PM, Feb 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-12 14:08:22-05

JERUSALEM (AP) -- An American professional football player has pulled out of a planned trip to Israel, accusing its government of trying to use him for PR purposes.

Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett cited Muhammad Ali's support for the Palestinians, saying he too wanted to be a "voice for the voiceless."

Israeli officials had boasted the visit this week would bring "influencers" who would serve as "goodwill ambassadors" when they return home.

But in a letter posted on Twitter Saturday, Bennett said: "I will not be used in such a manner." The Miami Dolphins' Kenny Stills indicated he also will skip the trip.

The delegation, which includes Bennett's brother Martellus of the champion New England Patriots, is to arrive Monday.

Israel's public diplomacy ministry, a sponsor of the trip, declined comment Sunday.