Avigdor Leiberman announced last week at a press conference
that he is forming a new party, Yisrael Beiteinu, to
compete in the upcoming elections.
Leiberman, a Russian immigrant who is the former general
director of the Prime Minister's office for Netanyahu, was
forced to resign after a Likud Party convention in which he
was charged with excessive manipulation.
In his announcement, Leiberman claimed that four institutions
have more power than the Prime Minister: the Supreme Court,
the Attorney General's office, the Budget Department and the
Investigations Department of the Police.
Leiberman stressed the necessity for the reelection of
Netanyahu as Prime Minister, and his desire to establish a
prime ministerial rule which "is not dependent on a
Two colleagues from the new party, Shimon Katznelson, Deputy
Mayor of Ashdod, and Mark Bessin, head of the Local Council
of Bnei Ayish, were seated beside Leiberman at the press
conference. Leiberman rejected reports that Lev Levayev, a
wealthy Russian investor, might join the movement or
subsidize its activity.
In his speech, Leiberman said that the factors which spurred
his decision to run in the elections were: the phenomenon of
the "princes" in the Likud, as well as the behavior of the
Supreme Court, the Attorney General, the Budget Department of
the Finance Ministry, and the Investigation Department of the
Police, which, in his opinion, run the country, and have more
power than the Government. Leiberman called the phenomenon
"administrative autocracy," and promised to change the
situation by trying to obtain either the police portfolio or
the justice portfolio in the next Government.
"If there is a phenomenon in Israeli politics which I scorn
and with which I am unable to become reconciled, it is that
of the `princes,'" Leiberman said, adding that even after the
resignation of Benny Begin and Dan Meridor, "an elitist
spirit prevails in the hallways of the Likud movement."
He explained that all of his attempts to change this attitude
inside the Likud were useless. "In my eyes, the elite of the
Likud has remained a foreign seedling," Leiberman added. He
then spoke about the chasm between the "stalwart and
aristocratic ones of Rechavia and Kochav Yair" and the "water-
drawers and wood choppers." According to Leiberman, in
today's Israel, whoever wasn't raised in Ramat Aviv Gimmel or
Rechavia is doomed to paste posters his entire life, while
those with stature seek to exclude everyone else from
influence and governmental positions.
Leiberman stressed that he was and has remained a man of the
street because he likes men of the street, and they
reciprocate his fondness. He said that even after living in
Israel for 20 years, there were those who still called him
"Vladimir" or "Rasputin," or other offensive nicknames.
Leiberman discussed candidates for prime minister, such as
Meridor and Shachak, who speak about upgrading governmental
norms and about a better way, but in reality are incapable of
reaching decisions among themselves on personal matters.
"There's no esprit de corps or policy here, and no desire to
give in to one another," said Leiberman, who then added that
the current government is "an ambition-coalition" and "a
social oligarchy which sees others as riffraff," and which
"clutches the horns of the altar" in order to preserve its
Leiberman reserved "honorable mention" for the four
institutions that he feels are running the country and that
have more power than the Government: the Supreme Court, the
Attorney General, the Budget Department in the Finance
Ministry and the Investigations Department of the Police.
Leiberman pointed out that the Chief Justice of the Supreme
Court has more power than the Prime Minister, although the
Chief Justice isn't elected by the public. "One should grant
the Prime Minister the tools to rule," he added, and said
that he seeks to establish a presidential regime which would
empower the Prime Minster with such tools.
In this regard, Leiberman also spoke about the various
investigatory bodies in Israel, such as the Crimes Unit of
the Police Department, the Investigation Department of the
Income Tax Bureau, and the Investigation Department of the
Stocks Bureau. Leiberman focused on the Police Department and
on the Attorney General's office. He mentioned Ministers
Yaakov Ne'eman and Rafael Eitan as well as Attorney Dror
Choter-Yishai, as examples of the abuse of power by the
investigative agencies since they were all indicted and tried
-- but thoroughly vindicated.
"It is impossible to accept what occurs in the Police
Department and the Attorney General's office," he said,
adding that "we have become a police-controlled state."
Regarding all of the investigatory bodies in Israel,
Leiberman said: "All of the these nudnicks should be sent to
pick fruit, so that we won't have to hire foreign workers."
Regarding the budget branch of the Finance Ministry, he said:
"It should also be subordinate to the Prime Minister's
In response to the question of whether Leiberman's leaving
the Likud points to his lack of confidence in the prime
minister, Leiberman replied: "I won't say anything bad about
the Likud," and added that he has confidence in the prime
minister and, as a result, will work for his reelection. He
said that Netanyahu tried to persuade him to remain in the
Likud. However, he clarified his position to the prime
minister, and his desire to withdraw.
Leiberman detailed some of his political thesis which is
based on the desire for "separation according to the Alon-
Plus Plan." He related briefly to the situation in Lebanon
and said that for every Katyusha which is fired on Kiryat
Shemoneh, "10 bombs should be dropped on Beirut," while
severely damaging its infrastructure. Leiberman mentioned
Turkey's threatening of Cyprus and Syria, and Turkey's
success in compelling the two countries to retract the
measures they had taken against it. He noted that, "in the
Middle East, Turkish and not English is spoken."
When asked to clarify his attitude to the Yisrael ba'Aliya
party, the first party for Russian immigrants, Leiberman
said: "I'm not competing with anyone." He said that there was
a genuine need among the new immigrants for an additional
movement, and noted that there is room in his movement for
all of the members of the Yisrael ba'Aliya party. "Whoever
wants to unite all of the forces will be able to do so."
When asked whether he would join a government headed by
Shachak, Meridor or Barak, Leiberman replied: "I'll work to
reelect Netanyahu. I don't believe that other powers are
capable of being partners to change."