'Foreign dignitaries visiting Israel don’t ask to meet Netanyahu' - Lapid

If anyone asks to meet with opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, protocol will be followed.

 Opposition head Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset, November 8, 2021. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Opposition head Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset, November 8, 2021.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Foreign dignitaries did not ask to meet with opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu when they visited Israel, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s office said on Wednesday.

“It is a long-standing procedure that the opposition leader may meet with diplomatic delegations arriving in Israel,” Lapid’s office stated. “That happened when Lapid was opposition leader, as well.

“Unfortunately, after we checked the matter again, none of the delegations expressed an interest in meeting with opposition leader Netanyahu, and therefore, we were not asked to coordinate such a meeting,” the statement continued.

If anyone asks to meet with Netanyahu, protocol will be followed, Lapid’s spokesman added.

Netanyahu recently spoke with Colombian President Ivan Duque when he visited Israel, but neither of the two US congressional delegations that visited Israel last week – a total of 15 senators and members of the House of Representatives – asked to coordinate a meeting, the former prime minister’s office confirmed.

 Foreign Minister Yair Lapid at the Knesset, November 15, 2021. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) Foreign Minister Yair Lapid at the Knesset, November 15, 2021. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

The Foreign Ministry statement came after Likud MK Yoav Kisch wrote a letter, signed by several other Likud lawmakers, as well, complaining to the ministry that it is not following protocol and arranging meetings between the opposition leader and members of the US Senate and House of Representatives who visit Israel.

Kisch said he hopes “this is only a misunderstanding and not a change in policy for political reasons.”

However, Lapid’s office said it is not the ministry’s job to coordinate meetings for opposition leaders, and they only do so when specifically asked.

Likud’s spokesman said that Netanyahu regularly holds “diplomatic conversations and meetings without going through the Foreign Ministry, because he opposes the dangerous ‘no surprises’ policy that Yair Lapid leads and [Prime Minister Naftali] Bennett’s commitment to the American government not to publicly criticize the dangerous nuclear agreement with Iran.”

Netanyahu continues to vocally oppose the Iran deal in his meetings “for the security of Israel and to ensure its future,” the Likud added.