World leaders prefer to meet with Herzog over Gabbay

The number of world leaders who made time to meet with the new head of Labor is nil, those who do meet Labor figures meet with opposition leader Isaac Herzog.

Gabbay and Herzog (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Gabbay and Herzog
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
None of the world leaders and foreign ministers who have visited Israel since the July 10 election of new Labor leader Avi Gabbay have taken the time to meet with him, party officials confirmed to The Jerusalem Post Monday.
Like others in the past few weeks, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, who met in Jerusalem Monday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will meet Tuesday with opposition leader Isaac Herzog, who is taking along with him not Gabbay but MK Hilik Bar, the party’s international secretary.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney both of whom were here earlier this month met with Herzog and not Gabbay. Rwandan president Paul Kagame also did not meet with the new Labor leader.
Gabbay told The Jerusalem Post he was not bothered by the situation.
“Buji can meet with him,” Gabbay said, using Herzog’s nickname. “He’s good at that.”
Herzog, who lost the Labor leadership to Gabbay, said that because he is head of the opposition, it is diplomatic protocol for world leaders to meet with him, adding that he is sure many world leaders will choose to meet with Gabbay, as well.
He admitted, however, that his predecessor as Labor chairman, MK Shelly Yacimovich, was repeatedly snubbed by visiting leaders even though she headed the opposition.
Then-US secretary of state John Kerry snubbed Yacimovich at least three times, and Kerry’s predecessor Hillary Clinton, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney also did not find time to meet with her during high-profile visits to Israel.
When then-US president Barack Obama came to Israel in March 2013, he did not hold a formal meeting with Yacimovich, but he did speak to her for some 10 minutes at the President’s Residence.
About half the visiting leaders and foreign ministers who have come to Israel over the past several years have met with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, and many also have met with Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni, who has assumed the elder statesman role once held by Shimon Peres.
When Livni was asked whether it is a problem that world leaders are not meeting with Gabbay, she noted that he has just been on the job for two weeks.
“It is probably too soon to judge,” she said.