Kafe Knesset for June 5
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Back in Africa: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embarked this week on his second-ever trip as PM to Africa. He returned on Monday from Monrovia, Liberia, where he met with 10 African leaders at the ECOWAS summit. Netanyahu was the first non-African leader to speak at the summit, and he returned hopeful that doors are opening to Israel throughout the continent and that more countries wouldn’t vote against Israel in the UN. Bibi made sure to stick in a zinger at the media that he so despises, posting on various social media his schedule for the trip with meetings every half hour with a different African leader. The caption was a sarcastic reference to the many analyses on Israel’s international standing: “‘Diplomatic isolation,’ the African version, 2017.”
By the way, it’s not just political leaders who flocked to hear Netanyahu speak. Miss Liberia 2016-2017 also came to hear him, with her sash and tiara in tow.
Who wasn’t there? Any Israeli ministers at all. Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely were all told at the last minute not to go. Only MK Avraham Neguise (Likud), who was born in Ethiopia, came along.
Knesset at the Pentagon: The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee is back in DC for its regular meetings with its many parallel committees in Congress – eight total between the House and Senate (Senate Foreign Relations, House Foreign Affairs, Senate and House Intelligence, Appropriations and Armed Services). Another stop on the visit will be the Committee’s first-ever trip to the Pentagon, and the MKs will meet CIA representatives. Also on the itinerary: A meeting with special envoy Jason Greenblatt and a visit to the Lockheed Martin factory where the F-35 fighter jet is manufactured.
Labor infighting turns dirty: The Labor leadership vote is almost a month away, but the mudslinging has already gotten very intense. In a candidates’ debate on Walla! News Sunday, foul-mouthed tech billionaire and MK Erel Margalit caught former Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay in an apparent lie. Margalit asked Gabbay – who was in the Kulanu Party until about five minutes ago – if he had ever voted Likud, and Gabbay said no. Then Margalit whipped out his phone and played a video of an interview in which Gabbay said yes, he had voted for Likud. Later, Margalit said that maybe Gabbay had misunderstood something in English, and it was the ex-minister’s turn to pounce back. On Army Radio this morning Gabbay said Margalit was trying to turn him into David Levy – something any Israeli would understand to mean that Gabbay was calling Margalit a racist against Mizrachi / Sephardi Jews. Gabbay, by the way, speaks English very well, since he is long-married to an Australian woman and was the chairman of Bezeq International.