FM to take ‘calculated’ revenge on PM

Lieberman furious over secret Turkey talks, doesn't intend to resign.

July 2, 2010 04:00
3 minute read.
 Foreign Minister and Israel Beiteinu party chairm

avigdor lieberman 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to have a difficult time appeasing his angry foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, when they meet at the prime minister’s Jerusalem residence on Friday morning after Netanyahu failed to tell Lieberman about an effort to repair relations with Turkey.

Lieberman only learned about a meeting in Brussels between Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu from Channel 2 news on Wednesday night. Netanyahu tried to reach Lieberman following the report, but the foreign minister has refused to take his calls.

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Netanyahu’s spokesman Nir Hefetz told Lieberman in a previously scheduled meeting on Thursday that leaving him out of the loop had been a simple mistake and not a deliberate attempt to keep him in the dark.

But Lieberman did not accept the explanation, and sources close to him vowed revenge.

“Relations between Netanyahu and Lieberman have been harmed irrevocably,” a source close to Lieberman said. “The scope of Lieberman’s humiliation will be commensurate with the size of his revenge, even if it is not immediate, obvious or direct. Lieberman does not easily forgive, and his revenge will be cold and calculated, not impulsive.”

Sources close to Lieberman said he had realized that whoever pressured Netanyahu hardest and last tended to convince him, and that from now on, he intended to be the one applying that final, persuasive pressure.

Israel Beiteinu will remain in the coalition, but Lieberman’s associates said it would no longer serve Netanyahu blindly.

“There are no thoughts about resigning, because we don’t want to give that joy to anyone,” Lieberman told Israel Radio. “It is a matter of what political culture we want to have in Israel, do we have good governance, and whether basic loyalty is respected. We must clarify all of this to the fullest, because it cannot go on this way.”

to vote for building moratorium bill, despite PM's opposition

The first act of revenge is expected Sunday, when the Ministerial Committee on Legislation will vote on Likud MK Carmel Shama’s bill that would require Knesset approval for continuing the 10-month construction moratorium beyond September. Israel Beiteinu ministers will vote for the bill despite Netanyahu’s opposition.

Israel Beiteinu also intends to stand up for its principles on issues like conversion and civil unions for couples, rather than compromise and delay legislation as it has in the past, and party officials will instigate confrontations with the Labor Party on diplomatic issues that were previously avoided.

Officials in Israel Beiteinu accused Defense Minister Ehud Barak of being behind the leak to Channel 2. But Barak reportedly called Lieberman to deny any connection to the story and to tell him that he had resisted calls by the US to meet with the Turks.

Ben-Eliezer’s Wednesday meeting with Davutoglu came as a result of a conversation between US President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the G-20 in Toronto last month.

Lieberman told Israel Radio that he thought it was wrong to hold high-level meetings with Turkish officials immediately after Turkey had rescinded the IDF’s right to fly over the country’s airspace. He said the decision necessitated an in-depth discussion inside the Foreign Ministry regarding whether this was the proper time for such a meeting.

Meanwhile, the meeting that has strained Israel’s coalition did little to improve Israeli-Turkish ties, Turkish officials were quoted as saying Thursday.

The BBC’s Arabic service quoted senior officials in Ankara as saying that there were no results from the meeting.

One of Erdogan’s advisers told the radio station that the objective of the meeting was to halt the deterioration in the relationship, and that Turkey was looking for clear answers to demands it had made of Israel to improve ties: an apology for the raid on the Turkish-flagged ship on May 31 that left nine people dead; paying compensation to the families of the dead and wounded; and ending the blockade of Gaza.

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