Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s most imminent and urgent priority was to stay in power and maintain his government by forming an alliance with the devil (Avigdor Lieberman) himself.
Over the past year, Yisrael Beitenu Chair Avigdor Lieberman was Netanyahu’s most rancorous, precarious and bellicose challenger; he once called Netanyahu “a liar and crook.” As an ultranationalist opposition leader, Lieberman was renowned as Israel’s most controversial polarizing politician.
Over his term as a foreign minister, he made a series of provocative incendiary comments, suggesting bombing Egypt’s Aswan Dam and drowning Palestinian prisoners in the Dead Sea. He also reiterates relentlessly that there will never be a Palestinian State unless his weird incapacitate terms are met.
To have a “viable” Palestinian state, Lieberman suggested a “populated-area exchange” scheme that ensures a Jewish majority in the State of Israel. In 2014, when he was Israel’s foreign minister, he wanted a confidential law that stipulated the legitimacy of transferring Arab-Israeli citizens by switching borders.
He’s held several ministerial positions, but his security experience is limited; paradoxically, he is now responsible for Israel’s military and intelligence agencies that raises concerns internally and externally with regard to level-headed strategies.
Lieberman has a notorious track record with Arab-Israeli citizens. He demanded the imposition of an “Oath of Loyalty” on non-Jews as a prerequisite of obtaining Israeli citizenship. For Lieberman, non-Jews have to pledge the oath of allegiance to Israel as a democratic Jewish State. They also have to endorse Israel’s anthem, flag and historical national figures on top of their commitment to military service in the Israeli Army.
Lieberman also suggested assassinating Hamas political leaders, and he also passed a controversial bill allowing for the death penalty for Palestinian prisoners. More shockingly, in 2009, he was quoted as saying, “Israel should continue to fight Hamas just like the United States did against the Japanese in World War II,” hinting at using nuclear bombs to exterminate Palestinians.
Most provokingly, in 2009, this man was one of Time Magazine 100 influential world leaders. For what? Nobody dares to answer.
With all the useless trials of his advisors to portray him as a pragmatic serious man who keeps his word, practice effortlessly refutes their assertions. What’s worse is that such a racist, cynical man with nationalist aberrations matched with fanatic beliefs might become Israeli prime minister.
In the history of Israeli fascism, Menachem Begin’s election as prime minister and the appointment of Ariel Sharon as a defense minister aroused similar worries, but now Israel’s mask of “democracy and tolerance” has been torn off and its true fascist face unveiled. Honestly, it has been exposed for a long time. However, the repercussions of such reckless politicking will be disastrous for the whole region.
Israeli reports leaked that Netanyahu and Ya’alon quarreled over Major Gen. Yair Golan, who made comments comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, utterly infuriating Netanyahu, especially since Ya’alon defended the general’s right to express his opinions. Eventually, Ya’alon was dismissed and replaced by a man who had never led soldiers on a battlefield.
Netanyahu’s move is a slam-dunk to pending Turkey-Israel rapprochement, Sisi-Blair efforts to revive the Paris peace conference and to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s vanishing dream of any political achievement in the dead peace process.
Now that Lieberman is on board again, will Netanyahu manage continue being the champion of the status quos? Or will the new partner radicalize him to more irresponsible adventures?
Politically, Netanyahu and his narrow coalition was about to accomplish a Turkish-Israeli compromise to warm up relations with Turkey after sever intensions. The sudden invitation to Lieberman, however, most likely blows away previous efforts and agreements. He is known as a staunch critic of Turkey and its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
On the other hand, Lieberman’s gloomy history of threats and egregious, malicious practices against Palestinians poses a perilous menace to the already suspended and paralyzed peace process that was about to be invigorated by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi and Quartet envoy and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Now, their efforts are shelved.
Some Israeli reports leaked that Tony Blair backed by Sisi was trying to mediate a deal to bring Isaac Herzog, Zionist Union leader, into the Israeli governing coalition after accomplishing a historic visit by Herzog and Netanyahu with Sissi in Cairo. However, Netanyahu slammed the door in their face.
More importantly, for Palestinian President Abbas, Lieberman is a serious headache. Allegations of a cozy relationship between former Fatah leader Mohammad Dahlan and Lieberman helps the former gain more Israeli momentum and regional support to replace Abbas. Lieberman perceives Dahlan as the preeminent successor to Abbas and the sole leader to take charge of matters in the Gaza Strip once Hamas is toppled.
Lieberman’s bet on Dahlan is not feasible simply because Dahlan doesn’t enjoy overwhelming popularity in the Fatah Movement or among Palestinians in the West Bank.
Netanyahu is already being internationally and nationally criticized for not doing enough to revive peace talks and turning down all peace initiatives; the leftwing newspaper Haaretz wrote: “It’s hard to imagine Netanyahu making a more foolish decision than retaining Lieberman as a defense minister. Just imagine that he said to Mubarak ‘go to hell.'”
This article was first published by The Daily Sabah.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.