Likud MKs upset Netanyahu didn't take them to meeting

"It is chutzpah that he did not take any of us with him," one legislator said.

obama netanyahu 248.88 ap (photo credit: AP)
obama netanyahu 248.88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu angered his Likud faction on Wednesday when he met with US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and failed to bring any MKs along. When Labor chairman Ehud Barak met Obama over breakfast, he brought Diaspora Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog, who would be a likely candidate for foreign minister if Barak was elected prime minister. When Netanyahu met with Republican candidate John McCain in March, he brought with him MK Yuval Steinitz, who could be foreign minister in a Likud-led government, as well as MK Gilad Erdan. But the team Netanyahu brought to his meeting with Obama at Jerusalem's King David Hotel included only his foreign policy advisers Dore Gold, Uzi Arad, Zalman Shoval and Ron Dermer, and his bureau chief Ari Harow. Lawmakers privately expressed outrage that they were left out of the meeting and even told Netanyahu that they were hurt by the snub. Possible candidates to be included in such a meeting were former foreign minister Silvan Shalom, Likud faction chairman Gideon Sa'ar, Erdan, Yuli Edelstein, Limor Livnat and Steinitz, who chairs the joint dialogue on defense between the Knesset and Congress and is a former chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. "It is chutzpah that he did not take any of us with him," one of the legislators said. "It shows a lack of self-confidence that he feels too threatened by the MKs in his faction to bring them along to such an important meeting." One of the lawmakers said they understood that Netanyahu would have upset even more MKs if he had taken one of them and excluded others. Another said he did not mind being left out as long as none of his rivals were there. Shalom declined to comment. It was also noted that none of the advisers Netanyahu took to the meeting were women. His only female aide waited outside the meeting. Netanyahu's office said the meeting was "limited to the principals and staff only." A source close to him noted that when McCain came to Israel, he was accompanied by senators, so it made sense to bring MKs with him, while Obama was accompanied by advisers. There was more internal Israeli politics involved in Obama's visit. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was the only Kadima leadership candidate he met with, but Public Security Minister Avi Dichter joined Obama's tour in Sderot. Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz made due with sending an open letter to Obama via The Jerusalem Post. Barak's office denied reports that there was a fight between him and Livni over who would join Obama on his helicopter ride to Sderot. They both ended up aboard. Obama and Barak joked about the name they share, and Barak's spokesman had to release a statement calling one man Obama and the other Ehud to minimize confusion.