JERUSALEM — Israel’s foreign minister confirmed Tuesday that he
boycotted meetings with the visiting Brazilian president, claiming he
refused to visit the grave of the founder of modern Zionism.
Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israeli media he did not attend
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s speech at the Israeli parliament
on Monday or two other meetings.
Lieberman said he was upset at
Silva’s decision not to visit late Zionist leader Theodor Herzl’s grave,
especially while agreeing to lay a wreath at the tomb of late
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on Wednesday.
“A person who is
not prepared to visit Herzl’s grave but is visiting Arafat’s grave, I
don’t accept that,” Lieberman told the Israeli news Web site YNet. He
claimed the snub breached protocol.
A spokesman from the office of
the Brazilian president countered that visiting Herzl’s grave was not
accepted protocol for a foreign leader’s trip.
“It was never even
considered as part of the president’s agenda,” the official said on
condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the
matter. He said the Israeli response was odd, considering recent trips
to Israel by other leaders did not include a visit to Herzl’s grave.
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