PM, Lieberman in row over appointees
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is expected to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week in an attempt to find a solution to the dispute that is brewing over the appointment of Israel's next ambassador to the UN and of the next consul general in New York.
Lieberman wants to appoint Alon Pinkas to the UN post and Shai Bazak as consul general, and declares he will not accept any other candidates. The minister's aides say that if the prime minister does not agree, a serious crisis will erupt.
In private conversations in recent days, Lieberman has made it clear that he is determined to bring Bazak and Pinkas' appointments to the cabinet for approval - despite the fact that Netanyahu does not agree. "I will not give in on this," Lieberman has said.
One source close to the foreign minister said Pinkas has been the leading candidate for nine months, and Lieberman had spoken to Netanyahu about his posting and thought there would be no problem.
However, Netanyahu objects to assigning Pinkas and Bazak to the posts, which Lieberman wants to do within the framework of the quota allowing 11 political appointees among all Foreign Ministry envoys. The foreign minister has already passed their names on to the relevant committee in the Civil Service Commission - and it has approved the two.
But a few days after that committee gave the go-ahead, and just before the matter was due to be debated in the cabinet, Netanyahu ordered the voting removed from the agenda. The Prime Minister's Bureau claimed then that the premier was surprised that Lieberman was bringing the names up for approval. However, that claim was surprising in and of itself, as the cabinet secretary approves all the items on the agenda three days before each cabinet session.