Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman has announced that he cannot "in principle" support former Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin in the presidential race because of the latter's past opposition to stripping former MK Azmi Bishara of his pension rights. Bishara had fled the country to avoid facing charges of treason.
Bishara allegedly received several hundred thousand dollars from Hizbollah in exchange for delivering intelligence information, during the 2006 Second Lebanon War. He was also in touch with intelligence agents from other unnamed countries.
"I always try to be clear,” Liberman said. “I do not run away from reality and I provide answers. I made clear that I would not vote for Rivlin. I did not support him when he ran against Peres. I told him that I would not support him, even if he was the favorite.
Rivlin had claimed that Bishara was innocent until proven guilty and that he couldn't support removing the rights of an MK until a proper investigation and legal process was completed. Liberman now charges that Rivlin was actually currying favor with Arab MK's for his future presidential run.
Whatever one's opinion of Rivlin's judgment on the Bishara case, Liberman should not be turning this one issue into a vendetta against Rivlin. Liberman was already terribly mistaken in supporting Mr. "Peace Process" Peres in the previous election. Two central questions need to be asked of the esteemed FM:
1. Why did Liberman support Mr. Oslo Peace Process - Peres - instead of Ruby Rivlin - who has always been a staunch opponent of Israeli withdrawals from the Land of Israel?
2. Why does Liberman - even in these days of Hamas-Fatah unity - continue to advocate and actively promote his "land exchange"plan for Israeli withdrawal from large parts of the Land of Israel, including even parts of Jerusalem?
The great American President Theodore Roosevelt was known for his expression "Speak softly and carry a big stick". Lieberman has turned this expression on its head. Shouting at Arab MK's may be justifiable in some cases and Rivlin may have been wrong about the Bishara case, but Liberman needs to understand that sound bites are not a substitute for substantive policy and faithfulness to the Land of Israel.
Aside from being recognized by all as a mensch and a man of integrity, Reuven Rivlin has been a consistent supporter of the complete Land of Israel under Israeli sovereignty. Liberman has not. After the peace process politics of Peres have almost turned the presidency into a pro-withdrawal advocacy position, it's time for a change. Liberman should think again - To vote for another withdrawal candidate would be a big mistake and a true betrayal of the country.