Lieberman's Speech Petty Politics

Yossi Verter
Yossi Verter
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Yossi Verter
Yossi Verter

Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama told the UN General Assembly that "petty politics" must not be allowed to get in the way of Israeli-Palestinian peace. Five days later, Israel's foreign minister addressed the same forum and showed everyone whom Obama was talking about. Petty politics is Israel's specialty.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman speaking at the United Nations on Tuesday, September 28, 2010.Credit: Reuters

Israel has had good foreign ministers and bad ones, and some who were simply forgettable. But never before has it had a foreign minister who exploited his position on the world's most prestigious stage to recite his party's platform as if he were at some party function in the boonies. Never before has it had a foreign minister who viewed this bastion of international diplomacy as the proper place to scorn and ridicule his prime minister, even as the latter is confronting a suspicious and skeptical world over the peace process.

Never before has it had a foreign minister who, addressing the entire international community, outlined a foreign policy at such radical odds with that of his prime minister.

In short, never before has it had a foreign minister like Avigdor Lieberman. And most likely, it never will again.

Lieberman doesn't care what Obama and other world leaders think of him; they aren't his target audience. His audience is his voters back in Israel. So he flouted all the rules of diplomacy to proclaim "his truth," as he told journalists later.

But since when has a foreign minister gone to the UN to expound "his truth" rather than his government's policy? And who in Israel will believe that this was not belated revenge - served cold, as he prefers it - on Netanyahu for not informing him about Industry Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer's meeting with Turkey's foreign minister a few months ago?

Netanyahu was the primary victim of Lieberman's caper. In a sane country with a self-respecting prime minister, Lieberman would have been fired on the spot, via fax.

When a foreign minister directly contradicts his prime minister's policy on the hottest issue of the day, it's the prime minister who looks weak, unserious and devoid of credibility.

Today, all the world's leaders must be asking themselves: If Netanyahu can't even tell his foreign minister 'either present my policies or shut up,' what is he capable of doing?

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