Avigdor Lieberman ousts three controversial lawmakers from Yisrael Beiteinu's Knesset slate
Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov of Yisrael Beiteinu says he is resigning from political life, a day after MK Anastassia Michaeli called it quits.
Foreign Minister and Yisrael Beteinu chief Avigdor Lieberman has ousted Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon from the party's roster for the Knesset election. Two other controversial figures from the party are also leaving.
Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov of Yisrael Beiteinu said on Tuesday that he is resigning from political life, a day after MK Anastassia Michaeli called it quits.
"Both Misezhnikov's and Anastassia's announcements were expected," said a source in Yisrael Beiteinu. "It was clear that Lieberman wouldn't include on the list people who had ... become a laughingstock."
Ayalon, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States, is the most senior Yisrael Beteinu member who won't be running in the January 22 election, in which the party is running on a joint ticket with Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud.
The deputy foreign minister sparked outrage in 2010 after making the Turkish ambassador sit in a lower chair at a meeting; Ayalon also made sure no Turkish flag was on display. Although Ayalon apologized at President Shimon Peres' request, he badly damaged relations with Ankara.
"I was notified today by party chairman Avigdor Lieberman that I would not be included in Yisrael Beiteinu's list for the next Knesset," Ayalon posted on his Facebook page.
On Tuesday evening, Yisrael Beiteinu released its election roster; exactly how the two lists will be combined is expected to be announced tomorrow. In any case, the joint slate is due to preserve the ratio from the outgoing Knesset: nine Likud MKs for every five from Yisrael Beiteinu.
Only one woman is expected to be among the top 10 candidates on the joint ticket, Yisrael Beiteinu MK Sofa Landver, but a Likud source said 10 women on the slate will have a decent chance of making it into the Knesset.
The second spot on the Yisrael Beiteinu roster, after Lieberman, is going to Yair Shamir, the son of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir. Third place will go to Energy and Water Resources Minister Uzi Landau, followed by Landver, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and current MKs Orly Levi-Abecasis, Faina Kirshenbaum, David Rotem, Robert Ilatov and Hamad Amar.
They are followed by Shimon Ohayon of Bar-Ilan University, MK Alex Miller, former Labor MK Leon Litinetsky, Julia Malinovsky, and Landau's chief of staff, Smadar Bat-Adam.
Ayalon is also known for leading Israel's political PR efforts. Last year, as the Palestinians tried to upgrade their status at the United Nations, Ayalon starred in a video looking to delegitimize the bid. He argued that the West Bank is not occupied, but disputed territory. Ayalon demanded that the world stop using the terms "occupied territories" and "1967 borders."
Meanwhile, Michaeli says she's leaving for "for personal reasons."
Michaeli is best known for an incident at the Knesset Education Committee in January in which she poured a cup of water on MK Raleb Majadele (Labor ) during an argument.
Misezhnikov says he is resigning because he has done all he can in politics.
"After the 10 years I served as an elected official, including seven years in the Knesset and in the government of Israel, I have informed Avigdor Lieberman ... that I do not intend to run in the election," Misezhnikov said in a press release.
"I am not retiring from public and business activity, and I intend to continue to contribute my talents, experience and energy. At the same time, the decision I have made is important for my own personal and professional development."
Lieberman said in a statement he accepts "with understanding Misezhnikov's desire to move on to new challenges in his professional life. His professionalism, knowledge and rich experience, accumulated at various institutions, will benefit him and any institution he elects to serve."
Three months ago, Misezhnikov's bodyguards complained that he often got drunk at nightclubs. He also reportedly missed the cabinet meeting where the prisoner exchange with Hamas for Gilad Shalit was approved due to a previous engagement where alcohol was served.
Misezhnikov denied the reports, claiming that he has never been intoxicated in public or visited a strip club, as the bodyguards claimed. Lieberman came to his defense a few days later and attacked the media.
The first and most in-depth journalistic investigation into Misezhnikov was done by Channel 10 reporter Chico Menashe. In January 2010, Menashe said the minister's nightlife often came at the expense of ceremonial events he was due to attend abroad. Menashe interviewed Israeli diplomats in Europe who complained that Misezhnikov was underperforming in his role as a minister.