17 March 2009 - The worst outcome?
I have to agree with Jeffrey Goldberg here. The appointment of Avigdor Lieberman as Israel's foreign affairs minister is both wrongheaded and just plain wrong.
It's wrong because of Lieberman's bigoted stance towards Israeli Arabs, whom he says ought to be required to take an oath of loyalty to the state. He also has views on democracy that are strongly objectionable, including his desire to increase the power of the executive relative to the judiciary.
It's wrongheaded because Israel is facing an unfavorable international climate, including an American administration whose commitment to Israeli security is uncertain and global public opinion that has already been inflamed against the Jewish state. Lieberman's views make him a poor choice as Israel's chief emissary.
Perhaps Benjamin Netanyahu is gambling that Lieberman will soon be removed from his post anyway, due to criminal investigations against him. He may hope to hold Lieberman's party in the Likud's governing coalition even if its leader is gone (as happened with Aryeh Deri's Shas party).
Even so, it is a huge risk to take, and not worth the price of Israel's moral integrity. Some of Lieberman's ideas, such as territorial swaps with the Palestinians have some merit--provided that the resident populations agree. Israel Arab leaders also bear some of the blame for the mistrust that made Lieberman's success possible. Still, this appointment is a mistake.
Those are my initial thoughts. I look forward to comments on the above.