British Prime Minister David Cameron may not address the Knesset as scheduled on Wednesday, if Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein cannot ensure that opposition MKs will not cause a diplomatic incident.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman warned on Tuesday that “the opposition’s intention to leave the plenum during Cameron’s visit is crossing a redline that will harm Israel’s image in the world.
“I call on opposition members to show maturity and national responsibility, to wake up and understand that the dignity of the State of Israel needs to come before small political considerations,” Liberman said In a meeting with opposition party leaders, Edelstein said, “I demand that you do not sabotage Cameron’s visit. As long as you protest in a political framework, it is acceptable, but some things are untenable. This is a visit by a state leader.”
MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) suggested that, in exchange for not disrupting Cameron’s address, the coalition should vote down one of its three major bills being considered in the plenum this week (on the electoral system, haredi conscription and a referendum on giving up land to which Israeli law applies).
Edelstein responded, “I tried to do everything for you [the opposition] in the last two days, and you still disrespected me. Don’t disrespect the Knesset and the government.”
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) said that some MKs are threatening to interrupt Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech, but it would be better for the whole opposition to walk out when Netanyahu takes to the lectern.
Edelstein warned the opposition that its obstinacy could do a great deal of damage.
The meeting ended without an agreement between Edelstein and the opposition.
The Knesset Speaker’s Office is preparing for the worst, explaining that canceling Cameron’s speech would be “the most extreme scenario, but it’s possible. We hope we don’t get to that point.”
Herzog’s spokesman said, “Cameron’s dignity will be preserved no matter what.”
Labor faction chairman Eitan Cabel tweeted to Walla reporter Omri Nachmias: “The pressure is unnecessary. No provocation will hurt Cameron.”
Coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu) criticized “the opposition’s violent, bullying behavior, which refuses to accept democratic decisions and respect the Knesset’s sovereignty.
“The opposition leader, whose dream is to be the alternative [to the government], cannot even do his little job in foreign relations as leader of the Israel-Britain Friendship Caucus. He is sabotaging relations with Britain with his own two hands and damaging Israel’s image in one of the most important European countries,” Levin said.