Avigdor Lieberman, who once famously balanced a phone interview about Hamas from the john, now seems bent on flushing away his alliance with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and bringing down the Israeli government.
It was reported today that Lieberman, Israel’s Foreign Minister, told his ultra-right party, Yisrael Beiteinu, that he would leave Netanyahu’s coalition government if two settlement outposts—Givat Assaf and Migron—were demolished. The two outposts were ordered to be destroyed by none other than the Israeli Supreme Court. At a time when Israel looks to stand firm in a region undergoing massive upheaval as well as potentially strike Iran in the wake of its burgeoning nuclear program, this move is another ploy out of the hostage-taking playbook that has bent Netanyahu to the will of the right for much of his time in office.
Should Lieberman succeed in keeping these two outposts intact, he will defy one of the last institutions bringing political balance and clarity to a country that is lurching dramatically and unchecked out of democracy. Lieberman’s back-up plan: to withdraw from the coalition if tax money that is designed to keep Palestinian security apparatuses in place is delivered to the Palestinian Authority.
Should Lieberman leave and take the government down with him, he will enfeeble a country that a time when stability is most paramount, an act which may have been his goal this whole time.
Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.