Avigdor Lieberman, the ultranationalist Israeli politician, holds the future course of politics in the Middle East in his holds…
He was born in 1958 in Moldovia, one of the poorest and most obscure of the old Soviet republics. On leaving school, Mr Lieberman worked as a nightclub bouncer and a radio broadcaster in Baku.
In 1978, he was lucky enough to leave the former Soviet Union and emigrate to Israel, where he served in the IDF, and then studied for a B.A. in International Relations and Political Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Lieberman was among the founders of the Zionist Forum for Soviet Jewry, and a member of the Board of the Jerusalem Economic Corporation and the Secretary of the Jerusalem branch of the Histadrut Ovdim Le’umit. He joined the Likud party and served as Director-General of the Likud Movement from 1993-1996. Lieberman was then Director-General of the Prime Minister Mr Netanyahu’s Office (1996-1997). Lieberman also served as the editor of the Yoman Yisraeli newspaper. For a time, Lieberman was a member of the National Union Party (Ichud Leumi) party.
But the arrival of one million Russian-speaking immigrants after the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991 created an immense opportunity for Mr Lieberman. This huge constituency was waiting for a party to represent their interests and, spotting his chance, he left Likud to found Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) in 1999. Yisrael Beytenu advocates “the complete cutting of ties with Gaza and its separation from the West Bank”.
Avigdor Lieberman was elected to the Knesset in 1999, he served as a member of the Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee and State Control Committees, and as Chairman of the Israel-Moldova Parliamentary Friendship League.
In March 2001, Avigdor Lieberman was appointed Minister of National Infrastructures in the government of Ariel Sharon. He resigned his post in March 2002.
He served as Minister of Transportation from February 2003 until June 2004.
In the government of Ehud Olmert, Avigdor Lieberman served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Affairs from October 2006 until his resignation on January 16, 2008, where he was supposed to focus on the threat posed by Iranian nuclear weapons.
Lieberman’s party forced him to leave the government when Olmert began peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.
Lieberman rose to international prominence because of outspoken and often offensive and aggressive statements about Arabs and Palestinians. For example, in March of 2002, during the second Intifadah, Lieberman said “”if it were up to me I would notify the Palestinian Authority that tomorrow at ten in the morning we would bomb all their places of business in Ramallah, for example.” This caused some outrage, but at the end of March, Israel launched ‘Operation Defensive Shield’.
Lieberman advanced a peace plan under which Arab areas of Israel including Umm El Fahm would become part of a Palestinian state. Though many Israeli Arabs identify themselves as “Palestinians,” they nonetheless objected to this plan as racist. Only about 15% would be willing to live under Palestinian rule according to various surveys.
Lieberman questioned the loyalty of Israeli Arab politicians, some of whom openly sided with the Hezbollah in the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and with the Hamas during Operation Cast Lead in 2008/9. He called for denial of citizenship for those where are unwilling to take a loyalty oath.
In the elections of 2009, Lieberman’s aggressive approach and attacks on supposed disloyalty of Israeli Arabs won him support from Israelis. His support was especially strong in southern towns like Ashdod. His great success was to mobilise Israelis who believe that concessions to the Palestinians lead nowhere – and events in Gaza have helped him. Yisrael Beiteinu received 15 mandates.
Since 2001 Lieberman proposes also to establish four townships in the occupied West Bank, hermetically sealed, which would be grouped the Palestinians. He sees it as a solution for the Palestinian citizens of Israel, who are more than one million, to move the vast majority of the group in tightly closed, self-administered areas.
Thus would arise a State ethnically homogeneous from the Mediterranean Sea until the Jordan, sheltering in its midst Palestinian “Bantustans”.
Avigdor Lieberman has been the subject of several police investigations, several of which are currently ongoing, for money laundering and allegations of bribery. According to Israeli journalists he spends a good deal of his time in the former USSR on business that is unaccounted for, and may involve illegal activities.
November 10, 2013 – ‘Israeli cabinet approves Avigdor Lieberman’s return as foreign mininster’
November 12, 2013 – Israel plans ‘unprecedented’ settlement expansion, 20,000 new units in the West Bank: