The Return of Avigdor Lieberman - What his appointment to Israel’s second-most powerful office means for the nation
by ANTHONY CHIBARIRWE From theTrumpet.com
In an effort to stabilize and expand its coalition government, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party (meaning the Consolidation) successfully signed a coalition deal with the party of former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the Yisrael Beiteinu Party (meaning Israel Our Home).
Prior to the deal, Netanyahu’s coalition of right-wing and religious parties only had 61 seats—a one-seat majority in Israel’s 120-seat Knesset. By bringing in Yisrael Beiteinu, the ruling government now has 66 seats. And it also has a new defense minister—Avigdor Lieberman. He was officially sworn in on May 30.
Lieberman’s appointment wasn’t a surprise: Back-room negotiations, which became public on May 18, had revealed that Lieberman would only join the coalition if he replaced Moshe Yaalon as defense minister. Yaalon would have become the foreign minister as consolation, but he preemptively resigned on May 20 because of his “lack of faith” in Netanyahu and in “his management in the latest developments.”
The former minister also warned that Israel was being taken over by “dangerous and extreme elements”—Lieberman appeared to be chief among those elements.
The new defense minister is widely considered “ultranationalist.” According to Israel’s right-wing Maariv newspaper, Israel’s new government is the “most right-wing and extremist” government in all of Israel’s history. According to United States State Department spokesman Mark Toner, Israel’s new coalition “raises legitimate questions about the direction it may be heading in and what kind of policies it may adopt.”
That perception stems mostly from Lieberman’s blunt rhetoric. During election campaigns last year, Lieberman suggested that disloyal Israeli Arabs should be beheaded. “Those who are with us deserve everything,” he said, “but those who are against us deserve to have their heads chopped off with an ax.”
Lieberman is also on record for once advocating the bombing of Egypt’s Aswan Dam in the event of a war with the nation. He has also talked openly about toppling the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and assassinating Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip. “If I were defense minister,” he warned last month, “I would give Hamas leader Ismail
Haniya 48 hours.” He once said, “It would be better to drown Palestinian
prisoners in the Dead Sea if possible, since that’s the lowest point in the world.”
Lieberman has repeatedly voiced skepticism about pursuing peace with the Palestinians, and he believes Israel wasn’t decisive enough during the 50-day Gaza war in the summer of 2014.
Israel’s new defense minister has also suggested that Israel seek other allies such as Russia, instead of looking only to its traditional allies.
What This Means
According to Chemi Shalev, the U.S. editor for Israel’s left-wing Haaretz newspaper, Avigdor Lieberman’s “bark may turn out to be worse than his bite.” In a similar vein, the way people perceive Lieberman—whether or not it’s accurate or fair—may prove far more significant than anything else. It’s fairly easy to see how Israel’s enemies might see Lieberman as all the more reason to step up their violent intifada against the Jews.
Even some Israelis recognize this perception. Opposition leader Isaac Herzog said the day Lieberman was appointed was “a day of sorrow” and that Israel’s security situation would deteriorate as a consequence. The Baltimore Sun’s editorial board called Lieberman “Netanyahu’s loose cannon,” whose appointment “erased virtually any chance of peace with the Palestinians.”
Following Lieberman’s appointment, Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, called on Middle Eastern Arabs to wage a “comprehensive resistance” against Israel. He said Palestinians should not “bet on all those who abandon you. Your only way to end the occupation is resistance.” He also assured: “Iran will go on with supporting the Palestinian resistance.”
A Palestinian jihadi group, Ajnad Beit al-Maqdis, seemingly responded to Nasrallah’s call when it fired a rocket at Israel and ominously said, “We announce our responsibility for targeting the Nahal Oz military base with a missile.”
Lieberman’s appointment is also significant in how symbolic it is of Israel’s dire straits and its intention to continue fighting. While Lieberman is not new to Israeli politics, he’s new to the second-most powerful office in the nation. That says something.
The last time the Likud Party teamed up with Yisrael Beitenu, we explained in our Nov. 1, 2012 article “Israel’s Rightward Shift Continues”:
The prospect of a hawkish bloc winning Israel’s parliamentary elections is significant because Bible prophecy says that, in the very near future, half of Jerusalem will fall violently (Zechariah 14:2). Much of the world says adamantly that the Jews should peacefully surrender East Jerusalem to the Palestinians, including many prominent voices in the U.S., the United Nations, Europe, the Palestinian Authority and even in the Jewish communities.
But the implication of Bible prophecy is that Israel will not surrender the city peacefully. The hawkish coalition now forming is a force that would be unlikely to give East Jerusalem away without a fight. Instead, it will be likely to promote the continued building of Jewish settlements in that part of the city, infuriating Palestinians in the process. This resulting fury would exacerbate the already tense situation, and thereby hasten the fulfillment of this violent wresting of East Jerusalem from Jewish control.