Skip to main content

Israel's ultranationalist foreign minister Avigdor Liberman returns to office

By Michael Schwartz, CNN
updated 11:29 AM EST, Tue November 12, 2013
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu with Israel's foreign minister Avigdor Liberman on Janurary 23, 2013 in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu with Israel's foreign minister Avigdor Liberman on Janurary 23, 2013 in Tel Aviv, Israel.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Avigdor Liberman was sworn in as Israel's foreign minister again on Monday
  • On November 6, a court acquitted him of breach of trust and fraud charges
  • Liberman had resigned as foreign minister in December 2012 to face the charges
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held the position open for Liberman's return

(CNN) -- On Monday night, Avigdor Liberman was sworn in as Israel's foreign minister after an absence of almost a year, amid a crescendo of opposition protests in the Knesset.

A comfortable majority vote -- 62 members voting for, 17 against and one abstention -- paved his way back into office. But his hard-line attitude on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks may put him in the diplomatic deep end with those trying to advance the process.

Labor Party leader Shelly Yachimovich said reappointing Liberman was a mistake. "In light of the attempts to reignite the negotiations with the Palestinians and delicate relations with the U.S. and especially the complex diplomacy involved in the Iranian situation, a foreign minister like Liberman will deepen the rifts and pour fuel on fires rather than putting them out," she said. "This is not good for Israel."

Liberman views Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as an obstacle to peace. His Yisrael Beiteinu party is also supportive of West Bank Jewish settlements, whose presence is reviled by Palestinians and many Israelis, who consider them obstacles to a peace agreement.

Read more: Israel warns against unilateral Palestinian move

Liberman's view seems to contradict the position of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has entered into a negotiating process with the Palestinian Authority.

Liberman was acquitted last week on charges of breach of trust and fraud.

Netanyahu had held the Foreign Ministry position for almost a year after Liberman resigned to face the charges, and welcomed him back into the government.

The trial centered on claims Liberman had pushed to get the Israeli ambassador to Belarus transferred after the diplomat allegedly handed over confidential information that included details of a secret police inquiry regarding Liberman. Liberman denied violating any laws.

Liberman has faced international criticism for his hard-line stance on Israel's Arab minorities.

His ultranationalist party is especially popular with immigrants from the former Soviet Union, where he was born and raised.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:54 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
updated 7:24 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
updated 1:44 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
updated 8:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
updated 12:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, gives a speech on April 18, 2012 in Lyon, central France, during the World Wide Web 2012 international conference on April 18, 2012 in Lyon.
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
updated 3:22 AM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
updated 4:00 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
updated 6:34 AM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
updated 12:46 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
updated 9:51 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it has never looked better.
updated 11:21 AM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
Unicef has warned that more than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation.
updated 12:01 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT