Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman suggested Sunday night that Israel could soon have a Russian- speaking leader.
Liberman said in an interview at The Jerusalem Post Conference with Post editor-in-chief Steve Linde Sunday morning that he would rather have a new election than change the coalition or return to the deal by which Israel would release Palestinian terrorists in order to continue American- brokered diplomatic negotiations.
Hours later, he appeared to hint to Russian Jews in Brooklyn that he could use that election to run against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, with whom he ran on a joint ticket in last year’s race.
“Only in Israel can a young Russian immigrant arrive and in 20 years become foreign minister,” he said. “One day we will have a Russian-speaking defense minister, a Russian-speaking president, and soon we may have a Russian-speaking prime minister.”
Recounting success stories of Russian-speaking immigrants to Israel, he noted that Russian immigrants Yuli Edelstein and Natan Sharansky have risen to the posts of Knesset speaker and Jewish Agency chairman.
He said that he himself started as a porter, and mentioned Arad Mayor Tali Ploskov, who rose from cleaning hotel rooms to running her city.
A source close to Liberman said that when he spoke about a Russian- speaking prime minister, he was indeed referring to himself.
The source that said Liberman was not considering running for president, but that his Yisrael Beytenu party would consider backing Sharansky if he were to run.
Sharansky’s associates said he was on a flight to Israel from Australia and could not be reached, but that he had said in the past that “if offered the position, no Jew would decline it.”
MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) said: “It is good that Liberman thinks a minority candidate could become prime minister, but unfortunately he thought only of himself. Then again, in a country where Liberman could be foreign minister, anything is possible.”