With the ascendancy of Avigdor Lieberman to the post of Defense Minister, politicians from across the spectrum were ready for the Russian right wing populist to start assassinating Hamas leaders as soon as he could. Nearly every political pundit was convinced Lieberman as Defense Minister would ensure the state’s transition into some sort of neo-fascism.
All of these premonitions amounted to nothing. “When there is a dispute between the integrity of the nation and the integrity of the land, then integrity of the nation is more important,” Lieberman said upon his swearing in as Defense Minister. This line is not inconsequential and reaffirms his acceptance of the two-state solution.
So why is the right gleeful about Lieberman’s appointment and Ya’alon’s resignation?
Despite Lieberman’s expression of support for the two-state solution, there are some big differences between Ya’alon and Lieberman.
- Support for soldiers no matter what
- Ending the warping of the IDF’s crippling purity of arms
- The Civil Administration will now be run by Eli ben Dahan in following with the coalition agreement
This last point is highly consequential. It is ultimately the Civil Administration that decides on building, zoning, and a host of other important matters in Judea and Samaria. Rabbi Eli ben Dahan, member of the Jewish Home party, will now be able to provide favorable zoning to communities long held back in Judea and Samaria, while helping to create structures that allow for increased building through the area.
“We are very happy with the appointment of Avigdor Lieberman,” says Meir Deutch of the Regavim organization. Regavim battles illegal Arab building throughout Israel. In Judea and Samaria where the laws are antique and administered by the Defense Ministry, Lieberman’s appointment means the Arab flaunting of Israeli law can finally be addressed.
No Second Sharon
It is clear that members of the right are wary of a second coming of Sharon. Lieberman may often times speak with bombastic rhetoric when it comes to Arabs, but is little trusted by those on the right in the reigns of power. Land of Israel activists are cognizant that a Lieberman unchecked could flip and help push through a final status accord.
Of course the new defense minister is not about to march to the beat of the Left, but in a world where international forces are gearing up to foist a “peace plan” on Israel, pressure on Israel’s less ideological right can turn someone like Lieberman into a perfect delivery man for the west’s neo-colonial aspirations in the Middle East.
The right has much to be thankful for in Lieberman’s appointment and yet remaining cautious and ready to check the newest member of the security cabinet is a strategy that remains necessary.