Former deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon went back on the offensive against
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman over the weekend, saying the latter
should not return to the Foreign Ministry even if he is exonerated in his
corruption trial, which begins on Sunday.
On the one hand, Ayalon said
the appointment of Ze’ev Ben-Aryeh as ambassador to Latvia, which is one of the
central issues in the trial, was appropriate. He said, however, that “Liberman
put pressure [on the selection committee] to appoint certain people to the
Foreign Service, which I succeeded in blocking, because I convinced him that
they were not worthy.”
Meanwhile, MK Merav Michaeli (Labor) wrote a
letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Saturday night, asking that he
not appoint Liberman to the Foreign Ministry again, because it could cause
witnesses to be afraid of testifying.
“As you know, Liberman’s trial will
begin on Sunday. Many on the list of witnesses are Foreign Ministry employees,
including those on the ministry’s selection committee,” Michaeli
The Labor MK explained that the careers of the people testifying
against Liberman could be harmed following the case.
“These are witnesses
with a knife to their throat, and the purity of the legal process could be sullied,” she
Michaeli demanded that Netanyahu announce, before testimony in
the case begins, that Liberman will not return to the Foreign
“Saving a government portfolio for someone who is accused of
fraud and breach of trust is manifestly improper behavior,” she
Ayalon pointed to Liberman’s work as foreign minister as reason
enough not to put him back in the job.
“If this is the result after four
years, he should not return to his job, and go to the Finance Ministry,” Ayalon
Speaking at a cultural event on Saturday, Ayalon said Liberman did
not gain the trust of the international community, and as such was not suited to
be foreign minister.
The former deputy foreign minister said he continued
to support Liberman throughout his term, because it was part of his
In addition, Ayalon told the audience that he “could not find a good
reason” for his firing from the Yisrael Beytenu candidates list.
week, Ayalon hinted to harsh criticism of Liberman in the international
community, saying that “out of respect, I won’t repeat what they said about him
around the world, but I don’t want to hurt him.
“The world treated him
like a leper,” Ayalon added. “His expressions were not diplomatic, and this did
not help the way the world looked at him.”