Netanyahu and MK Shalom - Amit Shaabi -
Benjam Netanyahu and Silvan Shalom at a weekly cabinet meeting. Photo by Amit Shaabi
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has invited mayors from the north to a meeting in Haifa today, even they are scheduled to attend the Annual Galilee Conference in Nahariya at the same time. Netanyahu's invitation is seen as a bid to upstage Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom.

Shalom, the minister for the development of the Negev and Galilee, is also the sponsor of the Galilee Conference and is to address it at about the same time as the mayors are scheduled to meet Netanyahu.

Netanyahu will also attend the Prime Minister's Conference on Partnership and Growth with leaders of the Arab, Druze and Circassian communities today. This is also expected to affect the number of conference participants and its media coverage.

"This is extremely awkward," a mayor from the Galilee said yesterday. "I was invited to the Galilee Conference a long time ago and yesterday I was invited to a meeting with Netanyahu."

The Galilee Conference is one of the most important events organized by the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and Galilee, with President Shimon Peres set to take part this year.

Other mayors said they were also invited to the meeting with Netanyahu at short notice.

"It's a mistake to hold both events at the same time," said Kiryat Shmona mayor Nissim Malka. "It is causing a rift among authority heads who are Likud members." "Netanyahu should have met us all at the conference," added Safed mayor Ilan Shochat.

Jacky Sabag, the mayor of the conference's host city, Nahariya, "is deeply offended, he invested so much in preparing for the event," an associate of Sabag's said. Sabag himself did not comment.