A week that began with speculation over whether Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman would meet with Hamas head Khaled Mashaal in Moscow ended with speculation over whether Lieberman would talk to his disgruntled No. 2 man in Israel Beiteinu, MK Yisrael Hasson. Hasson lashed out at Lieberman for bypassing him for the Tourism portfolio on Sunday when he gave the job to MK Estherina Tartman and on Wednesday when he appointed MK Yitzhak Aharonovitch. Israel Beiteinu's image of monolithic support for Lieberman suffered a severe blow when Hasson issued criticism unprecedented inside the party. "[Lieberman's] reasons for excluding me from the cabinet were political, irrational, manipulative and unacceptable," Hasson said. "I came to politics to have an impact in a party with a chairman who speaks clearly, decisively and honestly. I was disappointed."
Ex-cop a surprise for Tourism post
Hasson said Lieberman had not given him or the public a proper explanation for why he was not appointed after Lieberman publicly promised him the next portfolio that became available. He accused Lieberman of harming the party by appointing Tartman.
"A chain of senseless decisions dragged us to where we are now and I am sorry it happened," Hasson said.
Lieberman responded by slamming Hasson in a Tel Aviv press conference.
He said he never promised him the Tourism Ministry but the next portfolio that would become available in a future cabinet reshuffle.
"I respect Hasson and I don't want to judge him in his time of anger," Lieberman said. "What I cannot tolerate is unrestrained ambition. People who have been in the Knesset for only a year need a dose of modesty and patience and self-restraint. If someone came to Israel Beiteinu to be a minister, they came to the wrong place."
Lieberman said he spoke to Hasson privately on Wednesday and he did not say he was upset. He accused Hasson of leaking a headline to Yediot Aharonot that Tartman refused to give up the portfolio if the job would go to Hasson.
"You can't sit quiet as a fish in a party meeting and then brief reporters afterward with criticism," Lieberman said. "If it's Hasson [who leaked the report], such behavior is unacceptable. If a man has problems, he should tell them to friends, not leak them in the night and besmirch in the morning."
Lieberman said he would sue Yediot for libel because they printed the headline without asking for his response.
"You can't make something 200% wrong the lead story in a newspaper," Lieberman said. "When they write that Lieberman gave in to an ultimatum from Tartman not to appoint Hasson, it's more than a lie. They didn't even check. They might as well write that Lieberman crucified Jesus."
An Israel Radio poll on Thursday found that more than 70 percent of Israel Beiteinu voters believed that Tartman should quit the Knesset due to the scandal over whether she lied about her resum .
Aharonovitch, who is seventh on the Israel Beiteinu list, said he was surprised he was appointed.
"I thought Yisrael Hasson came before me and he has a lot to offer," Aharonovitch said. "I thought he should get the job. But I will stand up to the challenge and advance tourism."