FM Liberman, PM Netanyahu, and Finance Min. Lapid 370 150.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
If Avigdor Liberman swept into the Foreign Ministry like a lion in April 2009,
trashing the Annapolis agreement, he entered like a lamb on Tuesday, urging
people to calm the over-heated rhetoric in relations with the US.
was a different Liberman,” said one Foreign Ministry worker who attended an
all-ministry ceremony marking the minister’s return after his acquittal last
week of fraud and breach of trust charges.
“See what a difference four
years and a never-ending trial can make,” the worker remarked.
who said of himself Tuesday that he was not prone to sentimentality, exhibited a
bit of it when addressing the workers, saying that it was indeed good to “return
home” and that he was moved to see that a pen he had left on his desk when he
departed last December remained in exactly the same place on his
He told the workers that his first appointment Tuesday morning
was with US Ambassador Dan Shapiro. He then went on to urge calm in the current
dust-up with the US over the Iranian issue.
“Our relations with the US are paramount, and
without them we can’t maneuver in the present world,” he said.
disagreements are natural and always existed, and simply do not need to be heard
the way they are being heard outside. I think that a calming siren needs to be
Liberman said everyone realized that the relations with the
US were vital and stable, and nothing could change that. He noted that
disagreements with the US had existed before the creation of the state, and
every decade thereafter, and that they needed to be handled in the most natural
One official said it was no coincidence that the only issue
Liberman addressed during his remarks, besides the long-standing labor dispute
in the ministry, was relations with the US – an indication that, unlike in his
first term from 2009 to 2012, he intended to take an active part in the
day-to-day managing of that relationship.
During his previous stint at
the helm of the ministry, Liberman was content to let defense minister Ehud
Barak and the Prime Minister’s Office run the relations with the US. This time,
it seems, he plans to be more involved.
One official said that Shapiro
had cultivated a good relationship with Liberman, remaining in close contact
with him while the latter was out of the Foreign Ministry.
no reference at all during his remarks to the negotiations with the Palestinians
or the ongoing P5+1 talks with Iran, both issues on the top of Israel’s
His first act as foreign minister was to recommend
that Ze’ev Elkin remain in his position as deputy foreign minister, something
the government approved Tuesday morning.
Regarding the labor dispute that
has hampered the ministry’s operation for months and cast a huge pall on morale,
Liberman said that this needed to be resolved “as soon as possible.”
was greeted warmly by workers’ committee head Yair Frumer, who said a full-time
minister was necessary to put an end to the labor dispute and get back
responsibilities poached from the ministry during Liberman’s absence.