What began as an official week-long work visit to Spain and Portugal turned into an embarrassing situation, not just for Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, but for the entire State of Israel.
Misezhnikov's "work visit" was replete with nightly outings, cancellations and delays of various meetings, and a covert handshake with an Iranian official.
Misezhnikov had arranged the trip with the purpose of participating in an international tourism fair in Madrid, to hold meetings with his Spanish counterpart, and to sign a number of tourism agreements in Portugal. His trip was meant to last just seven days.
On January 21, the third day of his visit, Misezhnikov held a few meetings with Spanish officials and then took part in a local ceremony to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The ceremony lasted two hours - much longer than Misezhnikov anticipated. Following the event, the tourism minister was supposed to share a dinner with more than 50 businessmen who had arrived in Madrid from Spain. Each of these dinner companions spent 65 euro apiece to listen to the Israeli tourist minister speak.
Misezhnikov knew that the dinner was taking place, but half an hour prior to the big event notified the Israeli envoy to Madrid that he would not be able to make it.
He excused himself by saying that he was too tired from the long day, and even said he had made prior engagements. When Israeli Ambassador Rafi Schotz came to the dinner in his stead, to apologize, Misezhnikov was on a night out in Madrid.
An Israeli official privy to the details called the incident "shameful for the State of Israel."
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