Does Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu know something we don't? Has Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein whispered in his ear that he was about to wrap-up the investigation against Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman without going to trial, despite the mountain of evidence against Lieberman? Is Weinstein working on a public statement in which he would tell the world why he would not follow-up on the damning draft indictment against Lieberman, to which he affixed his signature?
I have not the slightest idea whether Weinstein's behavior was what led Netanyahu to embrace Lieberman, a self-declared foe of the rule of law, at this particular point in time. I have no way of telling whether the thick Lieberman file, which was one of the most important cases the police has ever had to deal with, will actually end with no charges. Nor do I have information on whether the attorney general just got cold feet in the face of pressure from some reporters who consider Lieberman their culture hero.
But even if this is indeed the case and the attorney general fails this test, and even if he claims that there is no compelling public interest to have this case go forward – namely, prosecuting a minister who has allegedly tampered with a witness, obstructed justice, and engaged in fraud – is this really who the prime minister wants to have as his political bedfellow now, notwithstanding the possibility that even in the case of Lieberman we may end up with another unfathomable, surreal not-guilty verdict like the one handed down in former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's trial?
I recall the threatening and foul-mouthed Lieberman who attacked the State Prosecution, who attacked some in the media (those who dared investigate and expose his wrongdoings), the Lieberman who declared war against the Israel Police's Major General Moshe Mizrahi [who sought to eradicate corruption], the Lieberman who was convicted of assaulting a child, who allegedly tried to blackmail a senior police officer, and whose Knesset friends stifled the attempts to revoke the legal immunity he enjoys as an MK so he could dodge attempts to indict him.
Upon hearing the news on Thursday, I asked myself: is this the new Likud? Just when you thought the Likud and Netanyahu had become more moderate, you get this. Is this the big new idea coming out of the governing party? I was left without an answer.
What would Netanyahu say in his defense – that Lieberman has changed? Would Netanyahu say that Lieberman is no longer eager to replace the attorney-general with someone "who is more like-minded"? That Lieberman is not the head of a radical and backward-looking party? That Lieberman is not the same Lieberman who had pulled the strings and orchestrated efforts to introduce some very troubling legislation, and that he is actually a sensitive, compassionate person with a really good and kind heart?
How will Netanyahu explain his alliance with this person, the perennial suspect and the police's person of interest, who is embroiled in one of the most severe public corruption cases? What excuse could Netanyahu use for the political love affair with someone whose closest friends include crime-bosses, or have arrest warrants on them? Is this the man who is going to help Netanyahu bring down the high cost of living? Is this the new socially conscious figure this joint Knesset list has to offer? Will he prevent the ultra-Orthodox parties from blackmailing the state?
I am sorry, but this is not the man Netanyahu is looking for, and Netanyahu knows it. Other top Likud politicos know that too. That is why I can't get to the bottom of Netanyahu's ill-advised decision. I can't discern the rationale for his move, nor do I know who convinced Netanyahu to go for it.
It's unclear why running together would be better than running in two separate lists. Some think Netanyahu was wrong on this too and that he might regret this political wedding.