US Vice President Mike Pence.
(photo credit: JOSHUA ROBERTS / REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a point of not selecting a deputy or vice prime minister when he formed his last two governments, believing such a symbolic post to be an invitation to undermine him.
So who will greet US Vice President Mike Pence at Ben-Gurion Airport when he arrives on Sunday? The answer – as usual – is complicated.
When US President Donald Trump arrived in Israel, he was greeted by President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel not only has no vice prime minister, it also has no vice president. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein would be acting president should anything happen to Rivlin, just as then-Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik hosted state dinners when then-president Moshe Katsav could not fulfill his duties due to his legal problems.
Edelstein is also considered Pence’s counterpart, because the vice president presides over the Senate on ceremonial occasions or when a tie-breaking vote is needed.
Edelstein will be hosting Pence at the Knesset on Monday, but he will not be greeting him at the airport.
When Netanyahu goes abroad, he appoints a different acting prime minister every time, just in case he cannot be reached.
Currently, while the prime minister is in India, Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev is acting prime minister, but because she is not a member of the security cabinet, she is technically splitting the job with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.
Regev’s poor English makes her not the best choice to greet Pence. But Netanyahu could have technically chosen any of his ministers.
His choice was Tourism Minister Yariv Levin. Levin’s spokeswoman said he would not let his promotion to Pence’s Israeli equivalent go to his head.
“Yariv was asked by the cabinet secretary to greet the vice president, and he will fulfill his role well,” Levin’s spokeswoman said. “He is happy to greet a friend of Israel.”
When Trump came, he was greeted on the tarmac at Ben-Gurion by the entire cabinet, as well as by MK Oren Hazan, who infiltrated the sterile security area to take a selfie with the US president.
Hazan said he would not be going back to Ben-Gurion for Pence.
“I shot with the sheriff, so I don’t need to shoot with the deputy,” Hazan said, paraphrasing a Bob Marley song.
“My picture with Trump was not a gimmick.
If I go get a selfie with Pence, it would make my Trump picture a gimmick. When you succeed in getting the top guy, you don’t go back for the No. 2.”Greer Fay Cashman contributed to this report.