Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who heads the Yisrael Beytenu party, has pushed Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon out of the party's list of candidates for the 19th Knesset.
The reason for the move is not known and it caught people within the party and outside it by surprise, as the two were considered close. Channel 2 television said that Lieberman was punishing Ayalon for the "low chair" incident, in which he had to apologize after he arranged for the Turkish ambassador to sit on a low chair for a televised dressing-down.
The top three spots in the list are expected to be manned by Lieberman, Yair Shamir – former head of Israel Aerospace Industries – and Uzi Landau. The complete list will be published later in the evening. The list will merge with Likud and the two parties will run in a joint list dubbed Likud Beytenu.
Minister of Tourism Stas Misezhnikov announced Tuesday that he would be leaving politics. "After 10 years in which I served as an elected public official, seven of which were in the Knesset and Government, I informed Avigdor Lieberman, Chairman of Yisrael Beytenu, that I do not intend to run for election in the 19th Knesset," he said in a statement issued from his bureau.
Press reports have depicted Misezhnikov as being excessively fond of alcohol and living a playboy lifestyle that interferes with his ability to do his job. He denied the charges but admitted to occasionally drinking.
MK Anastassia Michaeli has also announced that she will not run for the 19th Knesset, citing "personal reasons." Lieberman placed Michaeli in a low spot on the list, apparently because of her run-ins with the "politically correct" media. She aroused howls of press indignation when she spoke of homosexuality as a problem that often leads to suicide.