Avoiding the State of Putin

Lieberman is a grand master. He knows Israel's power structure inside out, so he knew a frontal attack on the rule of law wouldn't go over well.

Hats off to Avigdor Lieberman! Only a week ago the foreign minister's position was worse than ever. Even though he had behaved aggressively during his police interrogations, he understood what he did not understand before. Lieberman realized that the current affair was different from the others. He realized that the police were different from the police he had known in the past. He learned that this time, it was not he who preceded the law but rather the law that preceded him. Lieberman understood that within a few months he would no longer be foreign minister because he would be charged with fraud, breach of trust, money laundering and an attempt to suborn a witness.

Many things can be said about Lieberman. Dumb he isn't. His long days in the investigations branch made it clear that he should expect a defeat in the tough chess game between him and his interrogators. The only way out was to overturn the chessboard. To do something to show the interrogators who was boss. To make the police and prosecution afraid. To exploit Yisrael Beiteinu's political prowess to extricate its leader from the law.

Lieberman is a grand master. He knows Israel's power structure inside out, so he knew a frontal attack on the rule of law wouldn't go over well. A flanking attack was needed - neutralizing the police chief, for example. A signal to the police that the minister in charge is a Yisrael Beiteinu minister. A signal to the prosecution that the minister is a Yisrael Beiteinu appointment. A signal to the law enforcers that someone is above the law: Lieberman.

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch is a reasonable and decent person. The dismissed police superintendent, Uri Bar-Lev, who was recently in the headlines, is an impressive professional officer. But Aharonovitch's use of Bar-Lev is transparent. It was meant to weaken the police's leadership and perhaps even to change it. The same is true of the plan for municipal police forces. The plan is problematic in itself, but raising it now was aimed at dwarfing Israel Police Commissioner David Cohen; to stop the policeman who dared interrogate the minister at the top.

To this day Israelis do not know how great a debt they owe to seven people - Micha Lindenstrauss, Yaakov Borovsky, Menachem Mazuz, Moshe Lador, David Cohen, Yohanan Danino and Yoav Segalovich. In the past two years, these civil servants have prevented the State of Israel from turning into the State of Putin. We were just a step away from an all-out vandalizing of the Israeli regime. But these seven held sway. They defended and enforced the law when extremely powerful political, economic and media forces tried to annihilate it.

It's no mean feat to interrogate the finance minister, prime minister and president. It's extremely difficult to deal with the foreign minister when the public security minister is his puppet, but Cohen and his colleagues did so. In a quiet and matter-of-fact way they subordinated the lords of the land to the law. The result is clear - a broad coalition of people with vested interests wants the heads of these seven courageous men. More than anything, it wants the head of the country's top policeman. Many powerful people would prefer the police chief to be more flexible and less courageous than Commissioner Cohen.

Lieberman has read the map well. With great talent, he is recruiting various centers of power to his sophisticated rescue campaign.

If he succeeds in dismissing Cohen, he will be able to delay and dull the investigations. If he also manages to remove Mazuz, perhaps he will be saved. If the new police chief and head of the prosecution think as Lieberman does, there will no longer be any danger to the foreign minister's head. On the contrary. Israel will finally become an orderly Putin state in which Lieberman himself is the head.