Lieberman is a strategic threat
The choice of the most unrestrained and irresponsible man around for this job constitutes a strategic threat in its own right.
In a cynical move with few parallels in Israeli politics, the cabinet voted on Sunday in favor of Avigdor Lieberman's proposal for amending the system of government. Most cabinet members oppose the proposal, so when they voted for it, they knew that they were being untrue to themselves.
Particularly egregious was Minister of Pensioner Affairs Rafi Eitan, who said that he voted in favor because he knew this terrible proposal has no chance of making it through the Knesset. The reason that most cabinet members voted for the bill was their desire to stay in power at any price.
Lieberman is entering the government with a big wink. He knows that the system of government will not be changed, but he also knows that he has managed to do something that, until Sunday, seemed impossible - to secure himself the most sensitive post in the country, minister in charge of strategic threats.
The choice of the most unrestrained and irresponsible man around for this job constitutes a strategic threat in its own right. Lieberman's lack of restraint and his unbridled tongue, comparable only to those of Iran's president, are liable to bring disaster down upon the entire region.
There was a time, not so long ago, when those responsible for defense strategy were neither seen nor heard; and the same applied to the holders of classified jobs who served under or alongside them. There was a time when strategic discussions were conducted in whispers in the innermost chambers; when then minister Dan Meridor, who dealt with this issue, never spoke about it; when classified Knesset committees met with no public announcements; and when the prime minister would never have dreamed of abandoning such strategy to a man whose eyes flash and whose entire appearance is threatening - a sort of kindergarten style of deterrence.
But this is a time of irresponsibility, and appointments do not require even a facade of genuine national need, even the faintest shadow of a genuine public interest.
The defense minister, whose party symbolizes the opposite of Lieberman's ideology, maunders about a delusional agenda of possible talks with Syria and the Palestinians, as if he were working for a different government, while at the same time agreeing to the entry of a super-defense minister who is even less suited than he for the job.
Who will be employed in the Ministry of Strategic Threats and what will their areas of responsibility be? Who will control Lieberman's tongue, and has anyone taken into account the dangers inherent in his threats? Was he chosen for this nonexistent post solely because he wanted it? If there is indeed an Iranian threat, should responsibility for dealing with it be entrusted to a junior coalition partner? Does not his very appointment convey fear rather than deterrence? Can one conclude from this appointment that the Iranian threat will be handled with the same lack of seriousness as the decision to go to war in Lebanon, and will the results not be much worse?
The appointment of Lieberman - someone who not long ago demanded that Israel bomb the Aswan Dam - as the minister responsible for strategic threats indicates a loss of judgment by the Olmert government. The stability that this government will derive from the entry of Yisrael Beiteinu thus bodes ill.