By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
Labor and Likud MKs slammed opposition leader Tzipi Livni on Sunday for attending an international economic conference in Morocco, despite a decision by Morocco to cancel its invitation to the representative of the Israeli government, Deputy Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Orit Noked.
The Moroccan government canceled Noked's visa at the last minute last week to protest the Jerusalem planning committee's approval for 900 apartments in the Gilo neighborhood. Noked said she was upset about the cancellation, because she intended to use the trip to boost Israel's financial ties with the many Muslim countries that sent representatives to the event.
"It's really unfortunate that they canceled on me," Noked said. "I hope it will be made up on a different day, because I want to do whatever I can to encourage economic cooperation with the Arab world."
Despite the boycott of the Israeli government, Livni decided to attend the event, just two days after supporting the government on the Gilo issue in a speech on Wednesday at the Knesset. Her associates said she defended the proposed construction in Gilo at the conference.
"It is lucky that Israel still has leaders that the world is ready to accept even when they represent the views of the government," a Livni associate said. "Livni will continue defending Israel's interests everywhere the short arm of the government is prevented from reaching.
"This visit proves that Israel is more than just its government."
Livni was treated like a head of state in Morocco. She was given 20 bodyguards, including the country's only female guardian, and streets were closed for her motorcade.
Labor sources said Livni should have boycotted the conference in response to Morocco's boycott of the government. They said it was hypocritical of Livni to defy the boycott that came due to the building in Gilo that she said she supported.
The head of the Likud's response team, MK Ophir Akunis, said Livni had surpassed even his low expectations of her and had strayed far from the clean politics she preaches.
"This is yet another example of the double standard of Kadima and its zigzag policies," Akunis said. "Ms. Livni should have told the [Moroccans] who invited her that the opposition and the sovereign, elected government are one and the same. That would have been the ethical thing to do. And yet the government will continue to defend her from the charges of the Goldstone Report, despite her being in the opposition."
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