Lieberman seeks professional staff

Hopes Ayalon and former consul-general in NY Pinkas will build him legitimacy.

ayalon danny 298  (photo credit: AP [file])
ayalon danny 298
(photo credit: AP [file])
The cabinet will meet on Sunday to approve the creation of a new Department of Strategic Affairs in the Prime Minister's Office to be headed by Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman. The deal Lieberman signed when he joined the coalition authorizes him to hire a full staff of advisors and professionals to deal with the strategic threats facing Israel. But Lieberman's responsibilities have not been finalized, and Sunday's vote will go a long way toward determining their nature. If the proposal passes, Lieberman will be free to start hiring staff. Lieberman wants serious professionals with diplomatic and security backgrounds who will help him build legitimacy with potential future voters. The Jerusalem Post has learned that the names that have been considered in his office include outgoing Ambassador to the United States Danny Ayalon and former consul-general in New York Alon Pinkas. Sources close to Lieberman said his friendship with Ayalon goes back to their days working together in the Prime Minister's Office under then-prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Lieberman was the director-general of the PMO and Ayalon was Netanyahu's deputy foreign policy adviser. Lieberman wants Ayalon to serve as his right-hand man on diplomatic issues and as a special ambassador who he would send around the globe. Pinkas could serve in a similar capacity. Ayalon, who finishes his term in Washington at the end of the month, has declined to speak publicly about his future until he officially retires from the Foreign Ministry on January 1. He has reportedly been approached about a number of jobs, including running for mayor of his hometown, Hod Hasharon. Lieberman said there have been no negotiations between him and Ayalon.