Australian FM ends trend of snubbing Yechimovich

Bob Carr met with Labor leader after series of top-level international figures refused or canceled.

Labor leader Shelly Yechimovich 370 (R) (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Labor leader Shelly Yechimovich 370 (R)
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr met with Labor leader Shelly Yechimovich in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, stopping the pattern of top-level international figures who have either refused to meet with her on their Israel visits or canceled at the last-minute.
The meeting was not announced to the press in advance, perhaps as a precautionary measure. Presumptive US Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney canceled a highly touted meeting he had scheduled with Yechimovich last Sunday three hours before it was supposed to take place.
Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton violated diplomatic protocol by skipping a meeting with Yechimovich, even though she was then opposition leader. Labor officials have blamed Yechimovich for lacking a diplomatic agenda and an international presence that would make world leaders want to meet her.
Carr and Yechimovich had a lot to talk about because they both head social-democratic parties. In a post on her Facebook page, Yechimovich said the meeting made a big impression on her.
“We spoke a lot about how to get the public to believe and understand that our worldview is the most correct for them,” Yechimovich wrote. “He gave me a lot of good ideas. Before we parted, he said the best advice he could give me was to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I told him people have been telling me to shift gears, work at a less dangerous pace and take a vacation, and he responded that they are telling me nonsense.”
Yechimovich has not left the country for some three years. She is expected to go on her first trip abroad as Labor leader before the Knesset returns from its extended summer recess in October.
Labor spokespeople declined to comment on Yechimovich’s future international travels. But there has been speculation that she will attend the Socialist International Congress in Cape Town that is set to begin on August 30.
A Socialist International representative in London said she could not reveal the list of Israel’s participants in the Congress.