Avigdor Liberman has worked more closely than any other Israeli politician, and for longer, with Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. Their working relationship, which began in the late 1980s as Netanyahu started his Knesset career, saw Liberman serve as director-general of Likud under opposition leader Netanyahu and of the Prime Minister’s Office under first-term prime minister Netanyahu, hold a series of ministerial posts in subsequent Netanyahu-led governments, and even formally ally their two parties — Likud and Yisrael Beytenu — on a joint slate for the 2013 elections.
After the March 17 elections, however, and despite having recommended to President Reuven Rivlin that Netanyahu again be charged with the task of building a government, Liberman opted to go into the opposition, from where he has been loudly critical of the new coalition’s agenda and the approach of the man — that long-time former political intimate of his — at its helm.
But in an interview with The Times of Israel in his new, small Knesset office Liberman assailed Netanyahu — his policies, his mindset, his approach, his political courage — as rarely, if ever before.
“When he decided to dissolve the Knesset it was obvious to me that he’d struck deals with the charedim,” said Liebmerna. “But I didn’t know the scope of the deals. And so when we went to the president, I recommended Bibi (for the task of prime minister). When we started the negotiations, the closer it got, the more the nature of the deal with the haredim became clear. He gave them everything. simply everything. A week before he signed the deal with United Torah Judaism, when we gave him in writing our principles for the future government, our red lines, they ignored it. They put them aside. They were sure…
Lieberman later added: “The problem is that Bibi is only battling to survive. The only thing that interests him is his political survival. He can flipflop, forward and backward. Before the elections he can say ‘there’ll be no Palestinian state on my watch, and my Bar Ilan speech is irrelevant,’ and the day after the elections, he can explain that he was not properly understood. On election day, he can say Arabs are flowing in droves on buses to the polling stations, and afterwards apologize and invite Ayman Odeh to the Prime Minister’s Office, and on and on.”
He added: “On Iran too, it’s all talk. It’s all talk. Kalam fadi. Piste meisis. Hakol diburim. Parole parole. Just talk. Iran has stopped taking us seriously. It’s a case of the dog that barks and barks: A dog that barks doesn’t bite. As I always say, if you want to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk… But for real efforts, real desire to stop Iran, you need a completely other leadership. It’s not enough to give a speech in Washington or to blame the world.