Will the U.S. shun Foreign Minister Lieberman?
Haaretz asks how Israel’s U.S. allies will respond if, as expected, far-right leader Avigdor Lieberman becomes foreign minister in Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government: The official position in Washington is that Barack Obama’s administration will work with whatever Israeli government is ultimately established. Beyond that, American officials are keeping mum. But the “Lieberman question” continually arises ...
The official position in Washington is that Barack Obama’s administration will work with whatever Israeli government is ultimately established. Beyond that, American officials are keeping mum.
But the “Lieberman question” continually arises in State Department briefings for journalists and in other forums. And opinion columns in the American press have presented Lieberman in an extremely negative light, with comparisons to Austria’s Joerg Haider and even Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, (both use “ultranationalist rhetoric of hate,” one paper charged).
No American official is likely to convene a press conference publicly condemning Lieberman’s appointment. However, such a choice will almost certainly encourage the U.S. administration to keep its distance from Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, as Washington will not want to take the flak absorbed by demonstrating closeness to a government whose public face is widely considered to be a racist.
I find it kind of doubtful that a U.S. administration would ever “keep its distance” from an Israeli government. Netanyahu could probably appoint Skeletor as foreign minister and U.S. officials would still meet with him.
That said, Hillary Clinton and George Mitchell can’t be looking forward to peace negotiations with someone who has made it clear he considers them a waste of time. Not that any of that bothers America’s own Lieberman.
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Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating
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