Ayalon: Liberman pressured me to appoint people

Former deputy foreign minister says Liberman should take the Finance, not the Foreign Ministry if exonerated in trial.

February 16, 2013 19:39
2 minute read.
Outgoing FM Danny Ayalon at cultural event, Feb 9, 2013

Outgoing FM Danny Ayalon at cultural event 370. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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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 wrote.

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 continued.

Michaeli demanded that Netanyahu announce, before testimony in the case begins, that Liberman will not return to the Foreign Ministry.

“Saving a government portfolio for someone who is accused of fraud and breach of trust is manifestly improper behavior,” she wrote.

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 said.

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 job.

In addition, Ayalon told the audience that he “could not find a good reason” for his firing from the Yisrael Beytenu candidates list.

Last 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.”

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