Reuven Rivlin’s surprising decision to call off the first visit to Canberra by an Israeli president since 2005, after President Vladimir invited him to Moscow, has been widely criticized as an unacceptable affront to a friendly government. The Putin invitation was received four days ago, a week after the official visit to Australia had been organized and set for March 13-22. Rivlin decided to cancel Australia and accept Putin’s invitation for March 16-18 on the advice of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. They insisted that considerations of national security outweighed the diplomatic factor and made it imperative to talk to Putin face to face on the Syrian imbroglio.

Dissatisfaction was expressed by a senior Australian official, who noted that national schedules and other foreign visits had been rescheduled to make room for the Rivlin visit.