Liberman left out; Barak lobbying for settlements

Posted: July 6th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Left, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The control over the relations with the US was a source of tension between Israeli PMs and their foreign ministers throughout the years. Whenever the Prime Minister assumed control over the dialogue with Washington (and being the most important element in Israeli foreign policy, this usually happened very quickly), the foreign minister would start feeling he was cut out, and behave accordingly. The fact that the foreign ministers are usually political rivals of the PM – whether in his own party or as leaders of a senior coalition partner – didn’t help either.

But yesterday we saw something new: Israel’s Foreign Minister, Avigdor Liberman, graciously (and publicly) accepting the fact that Ehud Barak, the defense minister, has taken over the negotiations with the US special envoy, George Mitchell:

“Our relations with the United States are more important even than the dignity of the foreign minister,” Lieberman continued. “I don’t want people to say that a settler put our relations with the U.S. at risk.”

How noble! Is it the dawn of a new day in Israeli politics? Hardly. The truth is it took very little time for Netanyahu to understand what kind of service Liberman does him and his government when he travels around the world. And if he didn’t understand, came the French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and plainly told Netanyyahu to replace his Foreign Minister. This highly unusual advice was given not in a private meeting between the two leaders, but in a room with 15 people in it, and didn’t take much time to leak, even though Netanyahu requested from all Israeli officials present in the meeting not to have this detail known.

Barak Ravid, Haaretz’s diplomatic correspondent, concludes that “Liberman has become irrelevant”:

…there’s no end in sight to Egypt’s and Jordan’s boycott of Lieberman. In an effort to fill the void, Peres will travel to Jordan’s capital Amman to meet with King Abdullah on Tuesday. And Lieberman? In two weeks’ time he will tour Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Colombia to counter Iran’s influence in Latin America.

For Netanyahu, there can be only one solution for this mess: if Liberman is forced to leave the government because of the ongoing police investigation against him. In this case, the PM will probably try to lure in Shaul Mofaz, Livni’s number two in Kadima, thus splitting the main opposition party and further stabilizing his government.

And one last word, about Ehud Barak: I don’t think anyone in the Israeli left or amongst Labor supporters and activists ever imagined a day when the party’s leader will be the one lobbying with US officials for the expansion of the settlements, and on behalf of Benjamin Netanyahu, on top of all. Yet people came to expect so little of Barak, nobody even bothers to protest anymore.

2 Comments on “Liberman left out; Barak lobbying for settlements”

  1. 1 Shaul Hanuka said at 10:19 pm on July 9th, 2009:

    Maybe it’s not that bad that Israel will have a foreign minister that doesn’t relay all his work on the US and have a policy that will reflect it. The fact that Liberman is making that policy is bad news anyway.

    When i saw the title on the rss thing i was sure this post will be on Joe Liberman. maybe we are one Libermab away from peace ?

  2. 2 noam said at 6:00 am on July 11th, 2009:

    Joe Liberman is getting closer to our Liberman by the day, it seems