Kerry snubs opposition leader on her 1st day in role
US secretary of state didn't find time in recent visit to Israel to meet with Yacimovich, hear perspective of the opposition.
By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich’s first official day as opposition leader was characteristic of her last tenure in the post: It was marked by a high-profile snub from a top visiting foreign dignitary.As a result of its extended Passover recess, the Knesset only formally approved Yacimovich as opposition leader on Tuesday. But she has been functioning in that role since the government was formed March 18.In what is seen as a breach of diplomatic protocol, however, US Secretary of State John Kerry did not find time in his visit to Israel that ended Tuesday to meet with Yacimovich and hear the perspective of the opposition and the peace camp.Kerry did meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu twice in the most recent visit. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud), Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) and International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) were present for one of the meetings.Although Kerry came to Israel on two other occasions in the last three weeks, he did not meet with Yacimovich during those visits, either.Yacimovich has returned to a post she briefly held last summer when Kadima was part of Netanyahu’s coalition.That first stint as opposition leader was marked by multiple snubs from top world figures, including Kerry’s predecessor Hillary Clinton, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who cancelled on her at the last minute.In his visit to Israel, US President Barack Obama did not hold a formal meeting with her, but spoke to her briefly at the President’s Residence.When Putin and Clinton snubbed her, Labor MKs blamed her for lacking a diplomatic agenda and an international presence. They blamed Netanyahu for Romney’s cancellation.On Tuesday, three Labor MKs expressed frustration but declined to comment further.American officials noted Kerry’s tight schedule and expressed confidence that he would meet with Yacimovich and other key Israeli figures during the frequent visits he intends to make to the region.A Labor spokeswoman said it was absurd to summarize the tenure of Yacimovich after one day and that she would have all the necessary meetings and more in her post.
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