J.J. Goldberg

Bibi's Trifecta: Reach Out to Turkey, Boost Fuad, Diss Lieberman

By J.J. Goldberg

  • Print
  • Share Share

The other day I was blogging about Binyamin “Fuad” Ben-Eliezer, Israeli trade minister, crusty old general and Labor Party senior statesman, who told Yediot Ahronot last weekend that the world is getting tired of Israel and its “explanations” for failing to conclude a peace agreement with the Palestinians, and that time is running out on Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu to take the plunge. Fuad would like to see Bibi get rid of his embarrassing foreign minister, Avigdor “Yvet” (his Russian birth name. which his friends still use) Lieberman, and bring Tzipi Livni into the coalition so they can talk peace with Mahmoud “Abu Mazen” Abbas. Fuad would rather Israel negotiated with Fatah strongman Marwan Barghouti, a dedicated two-stater who could make a deal and make it stick, but he’s still in prison. Fuad figures, to paraphrase Crosby, Stills and Nash, that if you can’t talk to the negotiating partner you want, you negotiate with the partner you’re talking to.

Well, Fuad is back in the news again this week, big time. It seems he met secretly today in Switzerland with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to explore ways of patching up relations between the two onetime allies. Now Yvet Lieberman is hopping mad at Bibi for cutting him out of the loop and sending Fuad to sneak behind his back.

Lieberman’s office, according to Ynetnews.com, issued a statement saying that he

“considers it a serious matter that the meeting took place without the Foreign Ministry being informed. It is a violation of all normal procedures. It undermines the trust between the foreign minister and the prime minister. The foreign minister intends to clarify the incident.”

It’s hard to see what he needs to clarify. Trust? Yvet is a loose cannon and everybody knows it. As the Forward’s Nathan Guttman writes, his reputation and performance are so toxic that Bibi has to work around him and use Defense Minister Ehud Barak as his de facto foreign minister in Israeli-American contacts. As for Israeli-Turkish contacts, Yvet is hardly the go-to guy; he and his deputy Danny Ayalon played an impressive role in helping drive Israeli-Turkish relations down to their current nadir in the first place, notably in Ayalon’s goofy-couch stunt in January.

And just this week Yvet managed to shoot off his mouth and embarrass his prime minister yet again.

He announced that there was no chance of Palestinian statehood in the next two years — this while standing next to Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, whose cooperation is needed in Israel’s stop-Iran effort, and with American mediator George Mitchell en route to Israel in his continuing effort to achieve Palestinian statehood on precisely that schedule.

Fuad’s secret meeting is part of a quiet, continuing effort, with Bibi’s apparent backing, to calm the waters between Israel and Turkey. Two weeks ago Fuad publicly called on Israelis to end various impromptu boycotts of Turkish goods. And earlier this week, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Charlie Rose that Turkey remains “a friend to Israel” — though he tagged the Netanyahu government as a “barrier to peace.”

It’s worth noting, again per Nathan Guttman, that some influential American Jewish organizations are following Yvet’s lead on Turkey. They’re giving its envoys a cold shoulder and flooding the internets with bad stuff about Turkey, including sophomoric nastiness as well as criticism of behavior that they used to be the first to defend. This could be a case of American Jewish freelancing, using a sledge hammer while Israel approaches it with a scalpel. Or it could be that Bibi is using them as his own sledge hammer, getting them all worked up against those mean Turks as a little show of force while he quietly negotiates.

It’s not inconceivable that Bibi deliberately left Yvet out of the loop on Fuad’s Turkish powwow with an eye toward forcing him to quit the coalition so that he can bring in Tzipi Livni and get serious about the Palestinian talks before it’s too late. Besides his undiplomatic behavior as Israel’s chief diplomat, Yvet is under police investigation on suspicion of bribery, fraud, breach of trust and money laundering, including taking 10 million shekels from foreign businessmen and channeling it through shell companies and phony bank accounts. Israel’s attorney general announced today that he has received new material that might speed up his decision on whether or not to indict. That’s not good news for Yvet.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Turkey, Fuad Ben-Eliezer, Bibi Netanyahu, Avigdor 'Yvet' Lieberman

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.