Daily Israel Report

Rivlin: Time Not Right For Official Visits From Georgia

Knesset Speaker Rivlin postponed a visit from his Georgian counterpart saying the Rony Fuchs affair had 'disturbed' many Israelis.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 3/10/2011, 9:29 PM / Last Update: 3/10/2011, 10:35 PM

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Amidst growing tension between Israel and Georgia, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) has asked his counterpart, David Bakradze, to postpone his visit, which was planned for next week. Rivlin's request came after protests by private citizens and Knesset members who are outraged by Georgia's ongoing detention of Israeli businessman Rony Fuchs.

The speakers bureau released a statement, "Rivlin spoke with his Georgian counterpart today and asked him to postpone his visit to Israel due to its sensitivity at this time."

Rivlin explained to Bakradze that Israel prefers to reschedule the visit, "due to internal and external circumstances which preclude the visit." In addition, Rivlin informed Bakradze that, "the fate of the Israeli prisoner in Georgia, Rony Fuchs, is disturbing to many Israelis and that public pressure on the issue led him to understanding the timing was not suitable for an official visit to Israel."

Rivlin's office said the postponement of the visit was coordinated with the Foreign Ministry and all other relevant parties in Israel, and that no formal requests were received, including from MK Nino Avsedze (Kadima), to cancel the visit. Bakadze was to visit the Knesset next Wednesday.

Fuchs and fellow Israeli Zev Frankel were arrested in October for allegedly attempting a large-scale bribery of Georgia's Deputy Minister of Finance, Auondyl Ahradze. Ahradze was also detained by police for questioning.

Fuchs is a businessman who deals in oil and infrastructure. He served as one of Israel's honorary consuls in Turkey and is considered close to officials from the Kadima and Labor parties. Frankel, a long-time immigrant from the former Soviet Union, deals primarily in real estate and has been active in Georgia, where he has built numerous projects, for fifteen years.

Unlike Frankel, Fuchs is not well-known to Georgia's business community.

The two Israelis have only been recently indicted, and charge they were set up because the Georgian government wanted to avoid paying a financial debt.