Lieberman auditioning for Foreign Affairs portfolio

US Senator Joseph Lieberman says Israel Beiteinu chairman will "play an important role in next government."

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
February 23, 2009 01:25
2 minute read.
Lieberman auditioning for Foreign Affairs portfolio

lieberman and lieberman 248.88 AJ. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman met with his American namesake, US Senator Joseph Lieberman, on Sunday in what sources close to him said was an audition for the role he wants in Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu's government: foreign minister. Lieberman has told associates in closed conversations that he will request the Foreign Ministry in coalition talks. Former ambassador to Washington and incoming Israel Beiteinu MK Danny Ayalon, who accompanied Lieberman to the meeting, said he was a natural fit. "He's already prepared to be foreign minister," Ayalon said. "Of course he's fit for the position. He's a strategic thinker and analyst. He's impressive one on one. His English is very good. The more meetings like this, the more people understand his caliber. I've been meeting ambassadors, including Arab officials, and no one is raising eyebrows about the possibility of Lieberman being the minister of foreign affairs." The head of Israel Beiteinu's negotiating team, MK Stas Meseznikov, confirmed that "in a narrow government, I am sure we will get the portfolio." The senator requested the meeting, because he wanted to better understand the Israel Beiteinu leader's views. He advised his namesake to go to the US to explain his views. "Though we're not related by blood, we are privileged to hold positions in two great nations," the senator said after the meeting. "I wanted to meet Lieberman, because he will play an important role in the next government, so it's important that we in the US get to know him well." The Israel Beiteinu chairman explained his party's platform, including his call for a loyalty oath, which he renamed "the responsible citizenship bill," and dispelled what he said were myths about the party being racist. Ayalon told the senator that Israel Beiteinu was not singling out Arabs and compared the benefits he wanted to give discharged soldiers to the American GI Bill. "I told him that we are the most Americanophile party," Ayalon said. "We support drafting a constitution, an American system of government, and instituting a pledge of allegiance like America has." After the meeting, the senator, who later met with Netanyahu, expressed optimism that the new administrations in Washington and Jerusalem would get along. "Governments have come and gone in the US and Israel, but the relationship between the US and Israel has remained constantly strong because of the values and interests we share, and I'm sure that will remain true in the Obama administration," the senator said. The Israel Beiteinu leader praised the senator after the meeting and said that "Lieberman is the best name in the world." "We had a fascinating conversation," Avigdor Lieberman said. "I enjoyed hearing his estimation of developments in the Middle East, and I am sure we will meet again in the future."


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