Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (C) speaks to OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Roni Nume (L) and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Gadi Eisenkot (R).
(photo credit: ARIEL HERMONI / DEFENSE MINISTRY)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman appointed former minister Uzi Landau on Monday as chairman of Rafael Air Defense Systems, the security technology company that developed the Iron Dome missile defense system.
The appointment raised eyebrows because Landau is the third former Yisrael Beytenu minister Liberman has appointed to head a security company since he became defense minister six weeks ago. Liberman appointed Yair Shamir as the head of Israel Aircraft Industries, and Yitzhak Aharonovich to chair Israel Military Industries.
Landau, who has a reputation for being super-clean, recently quit his post as Jewish National Fund co-chairman protesting irregularities in how the organization is being run.
“Without regard to the character of the appointees themselves, these appointments look really bad,” said Zionist Union MK Eyal Ben-Reuven, a retired IDF major-general. “The defense minister is appointing his cronies to jobs that put them in charge of billions. This raises too many questions. Yisrael Beytenu controlling all our military industries smells bad.”
Channel 2 reported Tuesday night that Rafael’s board of directors wrote Liberman asking him to reconsider extending the tenure of current Rafael chairman Yitzhak Gat. The report said the appointment of Landau must be approved by the board, which could decide to reject it.
Landau declined to speak about the appointment, saying that it still has to be approved by the Corporations Authority.
He said he would not respond to any criticism.
Sources close to Liberman said that Landau, like Shamir and Aharonovich, is the most qualified candidate for the post, and has proven himself in his cabinet posts. The sources noted that Shamir headed IAI before entering politics, and Aharonovich headed the border police before becoming deputy police inspector-general and public security minister.
Regarding Landau, Liberman’s associates point out that he has a degree in industrial engineering from the Technion, a doctorate in the same field from MIT, and worked at Rafael as an engineer before entering politics and serving as public security minister and Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman, among other posts.
“The fact that Shamir and Aharonovich were ministers in Yisrael Beytenu, and Landau was a minister for both Yisrael Beytenu and Likud, should not disqualify them for posts that no one says they are not qualified to receive,” a source close to Liberman said. “It is only fitting that Liberman would appoint people whose abilities are known to him so he will know that the posts will be filled successfully.”