29 Questions Lieberman Should Answer Before Becoming Defense Minister

What do we really know about the defense minister-designate? Prime Minister Netanyahu and the public would be well advised to ask him these questions.

Avigdor Lieberman arriving to a coalition negotiations meeting, May 19, 2016.
Emil Salman

So what do we know about Israel’s defense minister-designate? Do we truly know him? Does the information amassed about him by the countless police investigations into his affairs over the last 20 years help us strip away the outer layers and discern the essence? To understand what drives him?

Following are a few questions that both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the public would be well advised to ask him:

1. How did millions find their way into an account belonging to a corporation in the Virgin Islands that was owned by your former driver, Igor Schneider?

2. What are the actual qualifications of Schneider, who is also involved in another company that received $500,000 from your oligarch friend Michael Chernoy?

3. What unique qualities does your daughter Michal possess that caused a company she owned to post millions in revenues, including while you were serving as a minister?

4. How did you earn $3 million on a single deal to alter the ruble’s exchange rate during your very brief but profitable timeout from politics in the late 1990s?

5. Why did you receive $20,000 a month from contractor David Appel?

6. What advice did you give Appel on the Greek island project that was worth so much money?

7. Did Appel help to finance your first campaign?

8. What was your business connection with businessman Dan Gertler, who made a bundle on diamond and mining deals in the Congo?

9. What doors did you open for Gertler in Russia?

10. What is the significance of your close friendship with Martin Schlaff, the Austrian businessman suspected of paying millions in bribes to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon?

11. Was Schlaff behind a $1 million guarantee that your Yisrael Beiteinu party obtained?

12. Did Schlaff’s company transfer $650,000 to a company in Cyprus that police were convinced you actually owned?

13. Why did the Moldovan businessman Daniel Gittenstein pay you 250,000 shekels ($65,000) a month during your second timeout from politics?

14. Why did you pick Alex Wiznitzer, of all people, to fill several top public-sector jobs, from CEO of the Israel National Roads Authority (now Netivei Israel) to chairman of the Mekorot Water Company?

15. What did you know about the close ties between Witznitzer and certain major generals in the Israel Police?

16. What’s your opinion of the fact that Wiznitzer was arrested twice in the last two years on suspicion of taking bribes?

17. How is Faina Kirschenbaum, the apparatchik you appointed party secretary general and deputy Interior Minister, who is currently suspected of enriching herself from the country's purse, including for the purposes of investing in a secret and forbidden partnership in a tobacco marketing firm?

18. And what do you say about the affair involving Stas Misezhnikov, the man you made chairman of the Finance Committee and Tourism Minister, who is suspected of channeling budgets worth millions of shekels to different projects employing his life partner?

19. Have you spoken recently with Mihael Gorolowski, your former driver and aide who was recently arrested for fraud and extortion in the National Roads Authority affair? Have you asked him how 33 million shekels made its way from the authority to a company under his ownership?

20. And who will be the next Immigration Absorption Minister? Will it be the woman who defended the arch-crook Gregory Lerner, worked as his adviser and tried to put together a gas deal between him and Shoni Gavrieli?

21. And who were your moles in the police?

22. Why was it your habit to ask random people to use their phones to make calls?

23. And to dismantle the battery?

24. And warn your friends that the police were "sitting on them?"

25. Why of all people did you regard Muhammad Rashid, a friend of Schlaff's and a person who has been accused of robbing the Palestinian people, as the optimal candidate to head the Palestinian Authority?

26. Why did you insist on controlling the Public Security Ministry in the two previous governments?

27. And to have a representative on the committee that appoints judges?

28. Why is it that the heads of the prosecutor's office and the police involved in the criminal investigation against you felt that wherever in the world they went following your footsteps someone had got there before them?

29. Is the honorable defense minister-designate willing to provide the public with answers to all these questions, just before he takes his seat on the 14th floor of [defense headquarters in Tel Aviv] and demands that military officials tell him the truth.