Avigdor Lieberman Rebuked Over Remark About 'Waning' U.S. Link With Israel

Foreign Minister Blunders on First Week Back on Job

getty images

By Reuters

Published November 21, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Israel pledged allegiance on Wednesday to its special relationship with the United States, now tested by pursuit of a nuclear deal with Iran, after Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman appeared to question the strength of the tie.

Any notion that Lieberman’s comments, in a speech on Wednesday, meant that Israel was looking for new friends at the expense of its bonds with its longtime main ally and military aid provider was challenged by the minister’s own deputy.

While his blunt-speaking boss was left behind in Israel, Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin was in Moscow with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who lobbied Russian President Vladimir Putin against a prospective deal between world powers and Iran now being weighed at talks in Geneva.

“No, I would not suggest reaching far-reaching conclusions that we will now replace our main ally, and that that is the aim of the visit,” Elkin told Israeli Army Radio from the Russian capital. “Even when there are disagreements over this issue or another … there is no one who can take the place of the Americans,” he said.

Elkin is a member of Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party. Lieberman heads the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party in the governing coalition.

Netanyahu is locked in his most serious dispute yet with U.S. President Barack Obama over the Iranian nuclear issue. His talks with Putin and French President Francois Hollande, who visited Israel this week, were seen by some Israeli media commentators as a snub to Washington.

The Israeli leader, calling for a dismantling of Iran’s nuclear enrichment capabilities, says any agreement to ease sanctions against Iran in return for only curbs on its activities would still enable Tehran to build an atomic bomb.

Iran says its nuclear energy programme is completely peaceful. Israel, Iran’s arch-enemy, is widely thought to have the Middle East’s only nuclear weaponry.

BACK SEAT

Lieberman, in his first speech as foreign minister after his acquittal last week on corruption charges, suggested that Washington’s relations with Israel were taking a back seat to other challenges, such as Iran and domestic economic problems.

“It should be understood … that the link with our greatest strategic ally, the United States, its link with Israel, is waning,” Lieberman told an economic conference.

It was time, he added, for Israel to shift from a “unidirectional foreign policy” toward a “diverse policy” of seeking better relations with other countries, which he did not name.

While publicly critical of the Obama adminisration’s pursuit of what Netanyahu has described as an “exceedingly bad deal” with Iran, the premier and other Israeli officials have insisted the decades-long alliance with Washington remained strong.

As foreign minister in Netanyahu’s previous government, Lieberman raised hackles at home and abroad over comments questioning the loyalty of Israel’s Arab minority and calling for the removal of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

In the past, Netanyahu largely kept Lieberman on the sidelines of Israel’s dealings with the United States, its main military aid provider, and the European Union, its biggest trading partner.

But Lieberman’s stronger political partnership with Netanyahu - their parties ran together in last January’s national election - could make it difficult for the prime minister to muffle the outspoken hardliner.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.