Lacking a full-time foreign minister, but with a number of other cabinet
ministers and senior officials filling in for the job, Israel’s new government
is creating headaches for protocol officers planning foreign ministerial visits
Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide will be the
first statesman, outside of US President Barack Obama and US Secretary of State
John Kerry, to visit Israel since the new government was formed last
Instead of meeting one foreign minister, Eide will be meeting five
people who are doing some aspect of the foreign minister’s traditional
Eide, who is to arrive Wednesday for a one-day visit, is scheduled
to meet Prime Minister and acting Foreign Minister Binyamin Netanyahu;
International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz; Justice Minister Tzipi Livni,
because of her role as the person who will head the negotiating team with the
Palestinians if negotiations get restarted; Economy and Trade Minister Naftali
Bennett, because of what one official said was his “important role in the
government,” and Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin.
Eide, a former
Norwegian defense minister who entered his post in September and will be making
his first visit here as foreign minister, will be accompanied by the director of
Norway’s Holocaust Center, and will be going to Yad Vashem.
officials said that among the topics to be discussed during Eide’s visit – in
addition to the Palestinian issue and bilateral issues – is the recent gas that
has started to flow from the offshore Tamar field into Israel.
companies involved in that project, and Netanyahu has also expressed interest in
the past in learning about Norway’s massive Oil Fund that invests surplus
revenue generated by Norway’s oil industry.
Eide will arrive in Israel
directly from talks in Cairo with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, and will
also go to Ramallah for talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud
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