Israel Resource Review 24th October, 2006


Commentary on Lieberman Entry into the Israeli government
Arlene Kushner

Avigdor Lieberman, head of the Yisrael Beitenu (Israel our home) party has done a splendid demonstration of how a self-serving politician acts. He claims he's acting for the good of the nation -- in fact, he claims that he single handedly will now save the nation. Don't believe him.

When Lieberman began negotiations for joining the coalition, he had a list of conditions. It was possible, then, to feel distress that he would be strengthening a coalition that deserved to fall, but to also reason that maybe he would cause some good things to happen: he was demanding that no settlements be dismantled, that there be no unilateral pullout from Judea-Samaria, that there be electoral reform, etc.

But now? He has withdrawn all demands and has forged an agreement with Olmert anyway. Lieberman will become a deputy prime minister and will deal with strategic issues, particularly with regard to Iran To hear him tell it, he sacrificed all his other demands in order to serve the nation in this new position. Of course, the fact that he is positioning himself in a place of power has nothing to do with this; nor does his challenge to opposition head Binyamin Netanyahu of Likud.

PM Ehud Olmert, not to be outdone, has also reversed himself. He just promoted a change in the electoral system to a presidential model because this was what Lieberman was demanding; the priority was a stronger coalition, the wisdom of the proposed electoral changes be damned. Now that Lieberman has indicated that he's letting this pass, Olmert has come out with a statement saying he is against the president option and will block it. Let's hear it for acting on principle!

This addition to the coalition now has to go to the cabinet and the Knesset for approval; there is a slight change that Labor will bolt or attempt to block the change, but it doesn't really seem likely. Olmert has now strengthened himself significantly, and it seems we will have Lieberman to thank for this.


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