Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman cleaned house in his Yisrael Beytenu party on
Tuesday night, expunging it of three MKs who were embroiled in scandals that
embarrassed him: Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov, MK Anastasia Michaeli and
most surprisingly, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.
Michaeli retired from politics before the candidate list was announced, claiming
they left at their own volition to pursue other opportunities.
was taken by surprise that he was not a candidate for the 19th Knesset, finding
out shortly before the list was announced.
Liberman gave no explanation
as to why he left Ayalon off the list and he did not mention him in a lengthy
speech at a Yisrael Beytenu event in Jerusalem. He declined to comment about
Ayalon when asked by The Jerusalem Post about his deputy at the Foreign Ministry
as he left the hotel courtyard where the list was announced.
departure is thought to be tied to a January 2010 incident in which he was
caught on camera instructing cameraman filming a meeting with the Turkish
ambassador to notice that he had placed him on a low chair and refused to shake
the envoy’s hand in an effort to scold him.
Ayalon wrote on Facebook that
he would continue to serve in his post until his term ends, and then in a
“Today I received a message from Liberman that I will
be not be on the Yisrael Beytenu list for the next Knesset,” he wrote. “Over the
past four years, I had the honor of serving as Israel’s deputy foreign minister
at a complex and challenging time. Whichever path I choose, I will
continue to work for a strengthened and more prosperous Israel, whether it is in
the diplomatic, security or economic spheres.”
Meseznikov at the Jerusalem event, saying that he believes he will come back to
Earlier, Liberman expressed his dismay about Meseznikov’s departure.
“I was sorry Meseznikov, my partner over the past
14 years, decided to leave politics,” Liberman said. “He would have been very
high on the list and been a senior minister in the next government.”
Meseznikov reportedly was left off the list to punish him for a series of
embarrassing scandals in which he was accused of regularly missing or coming
late to key meetings in Israel and around the world because he drank alcohol
excessively and went to night clubs.
“I feel I am exhausted by my work in
politics,” Meseznikov told reporters. “There is no connection to what was
reported. If there was, I would have left a long time ago.”
she was taking time out from politics to spend time with her large family. She
already cleaned out her office in the Knesset a month and a half ago. In
January, Michaeli was suspended from the Knesset for a month after throwing a
glass of water on Labor MK Ghaleb Majadle during a heated discussion.
Moshe Matalon and Lia Shemtov were also given unrealistic slots on the list,
which will be combined with the Likud’s list on a joint Knesset slate. No native
English speaker was put in a realistic slot. Toronto-born Danny Hershtal was
placed 28th on the list.
Former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir’s son Yair,
who headed Israel Aerospace Industries, will follow Liberman on the list. The
rest of the top five are ministers Uzi Landau, Sofa Landver and Yitzhak
MK David Rotem, who became the nemesis of Reform and
Conservative Jews due to his legislation that would have harmed them, is eighth
on the list.
New candidates on the list include Bar-Ilan University
Prof. Shimon Ohayon, who is a leader of Moroccan immigrants, former Labor
MK Leon Linitinsky and Holon city councilwoman Yulia Malinovsky.
called the candidates list “balanced, nationalist and responsible.”
have a winning list,” he said. “On January 22, we will all celebrate the victory
of the nationalist camp.”