Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the far, far right nationalist Yisrael Beitenu Party in Israel (which is currently merged with the equally right wing Likud Party), was acquitted of corruption charges and then quickly sworn in as Foreign Minister on Monday.
Lieberman is dedicated to annexing the Palestinian West Bank and dismisses Palestine leader Mahmoud Abbas as a “terrorist” and a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” (the sheep being the Israeli left and others who agree to talk to Abbas). His return as foreign minister may well be the nail in the coffin of the limping negotiations begun by Secretary of State John Kerry between the Israelis and Palestinians this fall. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was already being attacked by Likud cabinet ministers for releasing some Palestinian prisoners. Now critiques of the negotiations and of compromise will have an uber-hard-liner on the cabinet to back them up.
Lieberman is a notorious flame-thrower and if he were a European politician would almost certainly be considered too far right to be legitimate (Greece has stripped the far-right members of the Golden Dawn in parliament of their parliamentary immunity, and the French elite is dead set against allowing Marine LePen to come to power.)
Lieberman has been absent from the cabinet during the past year while on trial for corruption, the foreign minister portfolio held in a sort of escrow by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Here is part of what I wrote when Lieberman first became FM in 2009:
Avigdor Lieberman, the Moldovan night club bouncer, is now foreign minister of Israel. [The charge against Iran that it threatened to wipe Israel off the map is untrue.] In contrast, Lieberman has actually threatened to wipe at least two countries, Egypt and Palestine, off the map. Monstrously, he suggested bombing the Aswan Dam, which would have the effect of murdering all 80 million Egyptians and sweeping them into the Mediterranean in a vast continental African tsunami.
Lieberman promptly announced on assuming office that the Mideast peace process is dead. Well, at least we have an outbreak of frankness.
… Lieberman is a Central/Eastern European ultra-nationalist in the mold of Slobodan Milosevic and Jorg Haider, and it is shameful that he was allowed into the government and more shameful that this travesty has passed without a peep in the civilized world.
‘ # In 1998, Lieberman called for the flooding of Egypt by bombing the Aswan Dam in retaliation for Egyptian support for Yasser Arafat.
# In 2001, as Minister of National Infrastructure, Lieberman proposed that the West Bank be divided into four cantons, with no central Palestinian government and no possibility for Palestinians to travel between the cantons.
# In 2002, the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth quoted Lieberman in a Cabinet meeting saying that the Palestinians should be given an ultimatum that “At 8am we’ll bomb all the commercial centers … at noon we’ll bomb their gas stations … at two we’ll bomb their banks …”
# In 2003, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported that Lieberman called for thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel to be drowned in the Dead Sea and offered to provide the buses to take them there.
# In May 2004, Lieberman proposed a plan that called for the transfer of Israeli territory with Palestinian populations to the Palestinian Authority. Likewise, Israel would annex the major Jewish settlement blocs on the Palestinian West Bank. If applied, his plan would strip roughly one-third of Israel’s Palestinian citizens of their citizenship. A “loyalty test” would be applied to those who desired to remain in Israel. This plan to trade territory with the Palestinian Authority is a revision of Lieberman’s earlier calls for the forcible transfer of Palestinian citizens of Israel from their land. Lieberman stated in April 2002 that there was “nothing undemocratic about transfer.”
# Also in May 2004, he said that 90 percent of Israel’s 1.2 million Palestinian citizens would “have to find a new Arab entity” in which to live beyond Israel’s borders. “They have no place here. They can take their bundles and get lost,” he said.
# In May 2006, Lieberman called for the killing of Arab members of Knesset who meet with members of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority.’
End/ (Not Continued)