Deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon said Saturday that he does not know why former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman dismissed him from his position in the Foreign Ministry. He has since been reinstated, and Lieberman has resigned.
When asked why Lieberman does not like him, Ayalon replied: "I don't know. I was collegial toward Lieberman. He did not explain to me why he fired me but he should at least have given explanations to the party and to supporters.
"In the last four years," Ayalon said at a live interview panel event in Holon. "I have stood up to the challenge of representing Israel. I felt a duty to defend Lieberman. In the world, they treated him like a leper. Out of respect for him, I will not say what they said about him.
"I do not want to hurt him," Ayalon said about his former boss in both the Foreign Ministry and the Yisrael Beytenu party. "His undiplomatic utterances did not help either, like 'all of Europe is anti-Semitic and 'Abu Mazen and the [Palestinian] Authority should be toppled.' It did not improve the way the world looked at him. They did not believe him, even when he said he was willing to be evicted from his home in Nokdim."
In response to a question about how good a good foreign minister Lieberman was, Ayalon's criticism became more acerbic, if indirect. "I do not want to give grades. He was foreign minister in a challenging period and he did his best." Regarding Israel's foreign policy, he said, that while the United States speaks softly and carries a big stick (in the words of Teddy Roosevelt), with Israel it is a case of "speaking loudly and carrying a mini carrot."
Asked who could be a good foreign minister in Lieberman's place, Ayalon said, "Yair Lapid, and me too."
Lieberman resigned his position as foreign minister because criminal charges were filed against him. He is awaiting trial.
Ayalon said that his vision of a peace deal with the Arabs would involve a Palestinian state that recognized Israel's right to exist as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and provided security arrangements. This statement differs from his past statements, but is identical to the declaration made by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in his Bar Ilan speech, with the possible exception that Netanyahu said the Arab state needed to be demilitarized, while Ayalon used the term "security arrangements."