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Monday, February 16, 2009

Israel's next foreign minister?

Remember how I told you all last week that if Yisrael Beiteinu is in the government, Avigdor Lieberman will be foreign minister? Guess what:
Sources close to Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman, who is on a vacation in Minsk until Wednesday, said late Sunday that the head of Israel's third biggest party would want to serve as either defense or foreign minister.

Reportedly, Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu would offer Lieberman to serve as finance minister.


However, in the prospect of a Likud-Kadima unity government, the top two portfolios of Defense and Foreign Affairs would go to Kadima leader Livni and No. 2 Shaul Mofaz. This would leave the Finance Ministry as the most heavyweight portfolio Lieberman could get. However, Israel Beiteinu sources said Lieberman was not at all interested in the Finance portfolio.
What Kadima wants has nothing to do with this. As I told you yesterday, if Kadima is in the coalition, Lieberman and Yisrael Beiteinu won't be.

Lieberman doesn't want Finance (and Bibi may not really want him there either). And after Olmert's experience with Amir Peretz at Defense, Netanyahu would be a fool to put Lieberman there. Lieberman will be Foreign Minister unless Kadima is in the coalition, in which case Lieberman is out, Shas is in and the Finance Minister will come from the Likud.

You heard it here first.


At 10:44 AM, Blogger LB said...

Very likely - but I think for slightly different reasons. If I were Bibi I'd love him there - Lieberman's no economist, Bibi can pull the strings.

The problem is, that other Lieberman - who would Bibi choose for the foreign ministry?

Also - then who gets finance?

At 11:05 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


If Lieberman gets the foreign ministry (which means no Kadima in the government), someone from Likud would get Finance. I'd bet on Silvan Shalom (who held the position from 2001-03).

If Lieberman is not in the government, Kadima will be and (ugh!) Livni will be foreign minister.

At 11:08 AM, Blogger LB said...

Carl - If Kadima is in, then yes, of course, as you said - ugh.

If not, though, of course Silvan Shalom comes to mind - but Bibi has emerged victorious from their feud - why would he want to revive him? I just don't see it. Meridor will be Justice Minister - who else is qualified or has the stature for one of the big three ministries?

At 11:24 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


One of Yisrael Beiteinu's demands is that Daniel Friedman - the current Justice Minister - remain in his position.

I think Bibi is confident enough that he has vanquished Shalom that he will make him Finance Minister. He really has no one else. He's got lawyers and military people at the top with the exception of Yuval Steinitz - a security expert with an academic background in philosophy.

Who has sufficient stature? I'd list Steinitz along with Benny Begin and Boogie Yaalon. But Yaalon is clearly a defense type and Steinitz and Begin are probably too academic (Begin's background was in geology).

By the way, Begin was defeated by Netanyahu for party leader when Yitzchak Shamir retired in the mid-90's, so if you call Shalom a rival, you could call Begin one too.

At 11:31 AM, Blogger LB said...

Carl - good point re: Begin as a former rival. I guess the question is has enough time for Bibi to feel comfortable enough in his position. Maybe there really just isn't anyone else, except that if Meridor doesn't get Justice - I could see him getting Finance (unfortunately).

I didn't know that keeping Friedman in place was a demand of Lieberman's - nice. Revamping the gov't one branch at a time...

Speaking of others with some stature (or at least a recognizable name), though - I wonder what will happen with people Sa'ar, Erdan, Rivlin, and Eitan. I wish I could add Ayoub Kara to that list - but we don't seem to know our friends when we're staring them in the face...

At 5:31 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

I have nothing to add to what Carl said. Bibi's dilemma is to put his rivals somewhere where they can do him the least damage. Trying to do that and at the same time minimize their extortion shows how difficult its to put together a coalition government in Israel - a veritable Rubik's Cube. While its fun winning, its not much fun being Prime Minister where you don't really get to decide who gets the rest of the government

Stay tuned.

At 8:12 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


Rivlin is a former speaker of the Knesset (I actually met him in his office while he was speaker thanks to a client). But I don't believe he wants a major ministry like that. I don't believe he's ever been a minister.

The other three are recognizable enough to be ministers, but not one of the big four.

At 4:18 PM, Blogger LB said...

Carl - I realize they are nowhere near recognizable enough to be one of the big three. I guess I took this a bit on a tangent (sorry) by just asking where they might end up in a sans-Kadima Likud government.

I'm not sure I agree about Rivlin (not that he has a place in the big three either). Yes, in 1996 he was just dying to be an MK again (and finally, only barely made it). But he's made a name for himself. He was Communications Minister and he is #4 on the list right now. If I remember correctly, he was also against the "disengagement," which might mean that his shot at a decent ministry might be higher WITH Kadima (so Bibi will protect himself, somewhat, from the Right).


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