In Israel, Finance Minister Yair Lapid's popularity in the polls may be plummeting on the back of some controversial statements which have not gone down well with his core constituents, to say the least. But in the U.S., he was recently received with "respect and genuine interest. He was made to feel that he was the 'next big thing'," Lapid's associates said over the weekend.
Speaking after Lapid visited Washington to attend an International Monetary Fund meeting, associates reported that the lecture halls were packed with people at every venue in which Lapid spoke. They said further that the finance minister's meeting with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, which was originally scheduled to last 40 minutes, ended up being extended to 90 minutes. They added that many members of Congress asked to meet with him as well.
According to Lapid's associates, the U.S. media also covered Lapid's visit with great sympathy.
Referring to ongoing peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians in his address before the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Lapid said that he did not believe the Palestinians' claims, and that the problem was not the Jewish settlements but rather the mistrust and fear each side feels toward the other.
During his week-long U.S. trip, Lapid also met with outgoing Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and several high-ranking members of Congress. He thanked them all for their support of Israel.