Ladies and gentlemen, Avigdor Lieberman is a free man. As we reported earlier, the man who once audibly flushed a toilet during a radio interview, will be returning to his post as foreign minister after a 17-year-long(!) corruption investigation ended.
Could the next stop for the former Moldovan nightclub bouncer be the prime minister’s residence in Rehavia? Not so fast. The calculations of the Yisrael Beiteinu leader have not always been easy to divine, but the speculation is starting. Here’s Yossi Verter on Lieberman’s political future.
What’s clear to all political players is that Lieberman wants to be prime minister one day. To reach that lofty goal he’ll have to act accordingly – that is, in the responsible, cool-headed manner of a leader who sees the whole picture. And he’ll have to vie for the Likud leadership when Netanyahu steps down.
The second goal is much more difficult than the first. Over the next few weeks, the feasibility of the second goal will be clarified. Or it will emerge that opposition among Likud’s leaders to the Yisrael Beiteinu marriage is so solid that a merger of the two parties is simply not in the cards.
Needless to say, not everyone is happy.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who is managing peace negotiations with the Palestinians, a role normally reserved for the foreign minister, congratulated Liberman “on a personal level” but tellingly did not welcome him back to the cabinet.
Lieberman will be sworn in again next week.
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.