Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

25 Teves 5759 - Jan. 13, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly







Avigdor Leiberman, former Director of PM's Office, Aims To Restore Power to Elected Government

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

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 coalition."

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 social hegemony.

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 Office."

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."


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