Pence to shun Israeli opposition during visit

Meretz leadership candidate Tamar Zandberg complained Sunday that “there is no opposition in the State of Israel.”

Isaac Herzog (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Isaac Herzog
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
US Vice President Mike Pence will not meet with any politicians in the opposition during his visit to Jerusalem, despite fervent attempts by opposition leader Isaac Herzog to add such a meeting to Pence’s tight schedule, sources close to Herzog revealed Sunday.
According to protocol, Pence does not have to meet with the head of the opposition. But most foreign dignitaries who come make a point of hearing from the other side of Israel’s political spectrum.
If Herzog succeeds in obtaining a last-minute meeting, he would bring along Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay and Hatnua head Tzipi Livni. Gabbay did not make an effort to obtain a meeting for himself, and his associates said he did not have any comment on the vice president shunning him.
Sources close to Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid expressed confidence that he would meet with Pence in the future but said it would not happen on this trip due to protocol.
In the past, sources in the opposition have blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for discouraging key international visitors from meeting his rivals. This time around, sources close to Herzog said the vice president’s time was limited and the snub had nothing to do with the prime minister.
Meretz leadership candidate Tamar Zandberg complained Sunday that “there is no opposition in the State of Israel.” She complained that Gabbay “is supposed to lead the peace camp, but said nothing about Trump’s Middle East plan or about what is happening in Gaza,” and instead has adopted what she said were false narratives of the Right.
“Apparently, Labor elected a leader with good intentions but not enough political experience,” Zandberg said. “He is trying to replace essence and policy with attempts to wink at potential voters on the Right. But he is not winning either side, and we see the results in the polls.”
A Panels Research poll of the adult Israeli population published Sunday by the Walla News website found that if elections would be held now, the Zionist Union under Gabbay would win only 15 seats, well below the 24 won by the party under Herzog in 2015.
Yesh Atid would win the most seats (25), followed by Netanyahu’s Likud (24), the Zionist Union (15), Bayit Yehudi (13), the Joint List (11), United Torah Judaism (8), Kulanu (8), Meretz (7), Yisrael Beytenu (5), and Shas (4).
Asked who is most fit to be prime minister, 33% said Netanyahu, 18% said Lapid, 11% Gabbay, 7% Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett, and 3% each said Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman and Kulanu chairman Moshe Kahlon. A quarter of the respondents said none of them were fit to be prime minister.
The poll of 504 adults, which had a 4.4% margin of error, asked respondents about Netanyahu’s son, Yair, who was caught on tape making misogynist statements on a jaunt to strip clubs. Among the general population, 56% said they had a negative viewpoint of Yair Netanyahu, 31% said their viewpoint was neutral, 7% said they did not know, and 6% had a positive view of him.
But among Likud voters, 45% said their view was neutral, 31% had a negative view, 19% a positive view, and 5% did not know.