Israel Beitenu leader Avigdor Lieberman told reporters in the Knesset Wednesday that MK Estherina Tartman was still the party's candidate for the tourism portfolio and that she had his full and undivided support. "Get your proportions straight. The soldiers are still being held captive, and a nuclear Iran is still our main problem," Lieberman told Army Radio. Lieberman postponed an official announcement, however, to 7 p.m. on Wednesday evening. Earlier Wednesday, it was revealed that Tartman did not lie about holding a BA degree and that she did in fact have a bachelor of economics from Touro College, the Internet-based news site NFC stated on Wednesday. Earlier this week, Tartman, Israel Beitenu's appointee for the Tourism portfolio, was caught in a storm concerning her academic education, when it was alleged that both her BA and MA degrees were fabricated. Tartman also claimed she held both degrees in a TV interview.
'No change in plans for Tartman' Tartman praised the response of Lieberman to the scandal on Wednesday.
Lieberman refused to withdraw Tartman's appointment before investigating deeper into the case, and attacked the media for what he called its "disproportionate" onslaught on Tartman.
During the last two days Tartman remained in her house, refusing to go out or answer the phone.
During her first interview on Wednesday she sounded upset, determined to defend her good name and unwilling to give up the appointment as tourism minister.
"Things are distorted completely [by the media]. People weaker than me could end their lives because of such a thing."
In addition, research showed that Tartman's limit of working four hours per day due to injuries she sustained in a road accident was only valid during the year 2000. Regarding her studies, research showed that Tartman completed her external studies at Bar Ilan University between 1992-1994, and received a BA from Touro College (1995-1998). Tartman began MA courses but did not finish her MA degree.