Kerry Bypass of Yacimovich Seen as Snub

YERUSHALAYIM -

Secretary of State John Kerry’s peacemaking trip this week included meetings with all the senior Israel and Palestinian officials — except for one, that is.

In what was described by The Jerusalem Post as breach of diplomatic protocol, Kerry bypassed the official leader of the opposition, Labor party chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich.

State Department officials explained what some were calling a blatant snub as merely the outcome of a a tight schedule and said Kerry would would meet with Yacimovich and other key Israeli figures during upcoming visits.

However, Kerry did not find time to meet with Yacimovich on two earlier occasions while in Israel recently.

It was not the first high-level snub suffered by Yacimovich. During her first stint as opposition leader, Kerry’s predecessor Hillary Clinton, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney did not find time to meet with her either.

In his recent visit to Israel, President Barack Obama did not hold a formal meeting with her, but spoke to her briefly at the president’s residence.

A Labor party official downplayed the incident, saying that it was only her first official day as opposition leader, and no conclusions could be drawn from it.

Meanwhile, Yacimovich and other MKs vented their anger at Finance Minister Yair Lapid for snubbing the entire Knesset by failing to appear at the special session called to discuss the planned budget cuts. Instead, Lapid contented himself with issuing a statement denying rumors of certain budget cuts.

Yacimovich called upon Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein to summon Lapid to appear, and stormed out of the plenum.

MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) called Lapid a coward for not coming to the Knesset.

“He’s running away from having to cope with the parliament and democracy and afraid to answer the questions of Knesset members and public representatives. He is trampling parliamentary rules,” Gafni said.

“Yesh Atid’s slogan asks, ‘Where is the money?’ but I want to know, where is the finance minister?” asked Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz.

Deputy Finance Minister Mickey Levi (Yesh Atid) defended Lapid, saying that he could not find the time. “The finance minister asked me to represent him in this discussion, because he is in the course of long and deep discussions on building a budget that will reflect the priorities that the public chose [in the last election].”

Levi promised that when the final budget is ready, Lapid will come to the Knesset in person to present it.