A dispute broke out on Tuesday between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid after Lapid criticized Netanyahu's decision to order Israel's U.N. delegation not to attend Iranian President Hasan Rouhani's General Assembly address.
"This is a mistake," Lapid said of the walkout. "Israel should not be perceived as a serial rejecter of negotiations. U.N. walkouts and boycotts are not relevant in current diplomacy and are reminiscent of the way Arab states behaved toward Israel."
Netanyahu responded to Lapid, saying Israel's U.N. delegation also walked out last year. "As the prime minister of Israel, the state of the Jewish people, I won't allow an Israeli delegation to be part of a cynical public relations show put on by a regime that denies the Holocaust and calls for our destruction.
"Despite the charm offensive of the new Iranian president, the policies of the regime have not changed at all," Netanyahu said.
Intelligence, International Relations and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) represented the government at the opening of the U.N. General Assembly meeting.
In New York, Steinitz held meetings with a number of officials, including the Norwegian and Czech foreign ministers and Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair.
Steinitz confidantes attacked Lapid on Tuesday, saying, "[Lapid] is vacationing in Japan while giving advice to a minister who is busy persuading foreign ministers about the dangers of Iran."
Speaking to Israel Radio on Wednesday, Steinitz defended the decision to boycott Rouhani's speech, calling it a "very intelligent" move.
Steinitz said he was disappointed by Lapid's criticism and asserted that Lapid had undermined Israel's diplomatic campaign against Iran.