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Monday, December 10, 2012

Why Danny Ayalon was dumped?

Last week, I reported that Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon was sacked from the Likud - Yisrael Beiteinu list for reasons that were not clear, but likely involved a personality conflict between Ayalon and Yisrael Beiteinu party leader Avigdor Lieberman.

Now, there are two other reports that claim to know why Ayalon was unceremoniously dumped. One claims that Lieberman wants to normalize relations with Turkey and cannot do so with Ayalon in the Foreign Ministry.  The other claims that Lieberman was furious with Ayalon because he held meetings with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton without Lieberman's knowledge.

This is from the second link:
The deputy foreign minister was seen as having played a substantive role in Jerusalem’s deteriorating ties with Ankara, after he attempted to publicly shame Turkey’s ambassador to Israel by making him sit on a low chair, without displaying a Turkish flag in the room, during a meeting in which he rebuked the ambassador for an anti-Israel television series screened in Turkey.

...

According to the report in the Russian news outlet Vestnik Kavkaza, which cited an unnamed senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official, Liberman is looking for a way to normalize ties, and Ayalon’s sacking is seen as a message to Ankara that Israel is serious about taking steps to that end.
The problem with this theory is that Lieberman is not a huge fan of Turkey, and has said that apologizing to Turkey would be an admission of guilt

Then there's the Clinton theory. This is from the third link.

The report, confirmed by senior Foreign Ministry officials, claimed Lieberman was infuriated with Ayalon over the meeting, in part because Lieberman himself does not have a good working relationship with Clinton.

Ayalon reportedly met several times with Clinton in an attempt to maintain proper foreign policy conduct between the countries. Ayalon was responsible for Israel's strategic relations with the U.S. and was in constant contact with Clinton's deputy throughout his term of office.

His regular meetings with Clinton were kept secret from Lieberman, in accordance with an agreement between Ayalon and Clinton. According to the report, when Lieberman found out about the meetings, he fired Ayalon.

Lieberman and Clinton met several times during their terms in office but the frequency of their meetings was much lower than those of past foreign ministers of both countries. 

...

Close advisers of Ayalon confirmed the report, but an official statement by the Foreign Ministry said, "The allegations are childish and groundless, but we shouldn't judge someone in their hour of despair."
My own view is that Lieberman never liked Ayalon and felt that as long as Ayalon was there, there was no chance that Lieberman would get credit for anything at the Foreign Ministry. Now, Lieberman (thinks he) doesn't need Ayalon to be his understudy anymore.
Meanwhile, Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein is expected to announce on Monday or Tuesday the closure of the main criminal case against Lieberman involving fraud allegations.
Lieberman has been under investigation for 14 years on suspicion that he received millions of dollars from private businesspeople abroad, among them Austrian entrepreneur Martin Schlaff, Uzbek-Israeli businessman Michael Cherney, and diamond tycoons Dan Gertler and Daniel Gittenstein, who allegedly funneled funds through what may have been front companies and corporations owned by Lieberman.
Well, yeah, once there are no criminal charges, Lieberman doesn't need Ayalon to take his place if he's forced to resign (even temporarily) from the Foreign Ministry. But the issue that was lurking four years ago remains: Is Lieberman capable of being foreign minister? Clinton and Obama weren't even willing to give him a chance.

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