The Prince's New Home / Now They Have Roots

There is no doubt that Avigdor Lieberman won the jackpot when Uzi Landau joined Yisrael Beiteinu. Landau, one of the right wing's "princes," is exactly what Lieberman needs to acquire the image he and his party desire.

It's not just respectability that every party is after now. Landau is bringing Yisrael Beiteinu roots. Not because he is more ensconced in right-wing ideology or tradition than Benny Begin, who recently rejoined Likud, but because Yisrael Beiteinu needs these roots much more than Likud.

Lieberman began his quest for roots ahead of the 2006 elections.

The former Likud director-general had founded Yisrael Beiteinu in 1999 as a "Russian" party, but couldn't shake off the violent image of the Vladimir character that portrayed him in the satirical television program "Hartzufim." Lieberman was even more upset by the immigrant image than the thuggish one. Immigrants with thick Russian accents do not become Israeli prime ministers in the 2000s. And this is the goal Lieberman is striving for, as quickly as he can - perhaps already in the elections that follow those due in February.

The 2006 elections were supposed to provide a great turning point. Lieberman's partnership with former deputy police commissioner Yitzhak Aharonovitch in Yisrael Beiteinu was not meant merely to serve a political agenda marketed in law-and-order slogans, but to portray Lieberman as being subjected to constant investigation. Yisrael Hasson, a former Shin Bet chief - a position seen as the epitome of Israeli characteristics - was supposed to bring Israeli characteristics to the party.

This plan worked only in part. The Landau effect is undoubtedly stronger. Lieberman turned his party yesterday into an inseparable part of the nationalist camp, which is anchored not only in political stances but in tradition. He now has roots. He has a history.