Avigdor Lieberman, the controversial leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu party which scored a major gain in last month’s elections, seems set to join Benjamin Netanyahu’s would-be coalition government, putting the role of foreign minister in the hands of one of these least diplomatic figures in all of Israeli politics.
Incredibly, having apparently gained one of the most significant positions in the Israeli government Lieberman is already asking for more: reportedly seeking “full autonomy” over all foreign ministry affairs. One source said the latest demand was an effort to prevent former Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom from being given the role of negotiating with Syria.
Long a minor player, Lieberman’s party gained a large amount of support in the most recent election by playing on anti-Arab sentiment in the wake of the invasion of the Gaza Strip. Lieberman attempted to ban Arab parties and party supporters marched through the streets chanting “death to the Arabs” ahead of the election.