Biography of Avigdor Lieberman
Lieberman was among the founders of the Zionist Forum for Soviet Jewry, and a member of the Board of the Jerusalem Economic Corporation and the Secretary of the Jerusalem branch of the Histadrut Ovdim Le'umit. He joined the Likud party and served as Director-General of the Likud Movement from 1993-1996. Lieberman was then Director-General of the Prime Minister's Office (1996-1997). Lieberman also served as the editor of the Yoman Yisraeli newspaper. For a time, Leiberman was a member of the National Union Party (Ichud Leumi) party.
In 1999, Avigdor Lieberman founded and became head of the Yisrael Beiteynu Party, a party that initially represented the large numbers of secular Russian new immigrants, and later came to have a much broader appeal.
Avigdor Lieberman was elected to the Knesset in 1999, he served as a member of the Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee and State Control Committees, and as Chairman of the Israel-Moldova Parliamentary Friendship League.
In March 2001, Avigdor Lieberman was appointed Minister of National Infrastructures in the government of Ariel Sharon. He resigned his post in March 2002. He served as Minister of Transportation from February 2003 until June 2004.
In the government of Ehud Olmert, Avigdor Lieberman served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Affairs from October 2006 until his resignation on January 16, 2008, where he was supposed to focus on the threat posed by Iranian nuclear weapons. Lieberman's party forced him to leave the government when Olmert began peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.
Lieberman rose to international prominence because of outspoken, controversial and often offensive and aggressive statements about Arabs and Palestinians. These expressed in plain words what many ordinary people were thinking, but are not necessarily considered acceptable in the world of diplomacy. For example, in March of 2002, during the second Intifadah, after a series of terror attacks, Lieberman said ""if it were up to me I would notify the Palestinian Authority that tomorrow at ten in the morning we would bomb all their places of business in Ramallah, for example."ref This caused some outrage, but at the end of March, Israel launched Operation Defensive Shield.
Lieberman advanced a peace plan under which Arab areas of Israel including Umm El Fahm would become part of a Palestinian state. Though many Israeli Arabs identify themselves as "Palestinians," they nonetheless objected to this plan as racist. Only about 15% would be willing to live under Palestinian rule according to various surveys.
Lieberman questioned the loyalty of Israeli Arab politicians, some of whom openly sided with with the Hezbollah in the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and with the Hamas during Operation Cast Lead in 2008/9. He called for denial of citizenship for those where are unwilling to take a loyalty oath.
Avigdor Lieberman has been the subject of several police investigations, several of which are currently ongoing, for money laundering and allegations of bribery. According to Israeli journalists he spends a good deal of his time in the former USSR on business that is unaccounted for, and may involve illegal activities.
In the elections of 2009, Lieberman's aggressive approach and attacks on supposed disloyalty of Israeli Arabs won him support from Israelis frustrated and terrorized by Hamas rocket attacks and by the apparent failure of Operation Cast Lead to deter them. His support was especially strong in southern towns like Ashdod, which were subject to rocket attacks and which have a large immigrant Russian population. Yisrael Beiteinu received 15 mandates.
February 6, 2009
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