Liberman sworn in as FM following acquittal on fraud charges

Gal-On: Liberman is an explosive that will blow up peace process.

Liberman at Likud Beytenu faction meeting 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Liberman at Likud Beytenu faction meeting 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman was sworn in as foreign minister at the Knesset on Monday, less than a week after his acquittal from fraud and breach of trust charges.
“I missed him in the government,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said of Liberman in a Likud Beytenu faction meeting that afternoon.
“We have a lot to work on, great trials and challenges.
It’s important for us to work together.”
Liberman gave up his position as foreign minister – which he held from April 2009 to the end of December 2012 – after his indictment in the Belarus Ambassador Affair, but was cleared of all charges by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court last Wednesday.
Ahead of the vote to allow Liberman to become a minister, which passed with 62 in favor and 17 against, opposition MKs voiced resistance to the appointment.
“Liberman is an explosive that will blow up under the wheels of the peace process,” said Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On. “Liberman is a persona non grata around the world and brought the deterioration of our foreign relations, turning us into a leper state.”
According to Labor Party leadership candidate MK Isaac Herzog, “Liberman was the worst foreign minister in Israel’s history. I don’t understand why he’s being brought back.”
Balad leader Jamal Zahalka accused Liberman of bringing “the bad spirit of racism, fascism and mafia to the Knesset.”
MK Meir Porush (UTJ) also expressed opposition to Liberman filling the ministerial post, saying that he spoke out against the yeshiva world, the most important thing to haredim.
All coalition parties voted to authorize Liberman’s appointment Monday evening, despite concerns that some would not, especially Yesh Atid.
“We’ll vote for Liberman as foreign minister. We’re not trying to commercialize the issue,” Livni quipped in an apparent dig at Yesh Atid.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s party demanded to fill Liberman’s seat as chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee with Yesh Atid faction leader Ofer Shelah and to add Science and Technology Minister Ya’acov Peri to the security cabinet, in exchange for adding a new Likud Beytenu minister to the government and security cabinet.
However, Likud sources say Netanyahu will not give up the spot and told Lapid that the head of the prestigious Knesset panel was always chosen by the prime minister.
Leading candidates from Likud Beytenu to head the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee are Knesset House Committee chairman Tzachi Hanegbi, who held the position in the 17th and part of the 18th Knessets, Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin and coalition chairman Yariv Levin.
There cannot be a temporary committee chairman for less than three months; as such, the coalition is working to fill the slot as soon as possible.