"I am happy with what I've done over these last four years," said Lieberman
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman speaks to the press at the foreign ministry in Jerusalem on October 29. Lieberman wants to stay on as Israel's top diplomat if his party's alliance with the ruling Likud party ends up forming the next government after January elections, he said on Tuesday. © Gali Tibbon - AFP
AFP
Last updated: October 30, 2012

Lieberman wants to stay on as Israel's top diplomat

Avigdor Lieberman wants to stay on as Israel's top diplomat if his party's alliance with the ruling Likud party ends up forming the next government after January elections, he said on Tuesday.

"If I can, I will continue" as foreign minister," he told Israel's public radio.

"I am happy with what I've done over these last four years," said Lieberman, who heads the ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party and has a reputation for being an outspoken hardliner.

"I don't see any reason not to continue on in this position," he said, while insisting that his retaining the foreign affairs portfolio was "not part" of the deal to run on a joint electoral list with the rightwing Likud of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

On Monday, members of Likud's governing body rubberstamped the alliance with Yisrael Beitenu which will see the two parties running on a joint slate for the elections on January 22.

Netanyahu has said that Lieberman, who will occupy the second slot on the list, will have his pick of the three key portfolios -- defence, foreign affairs or finance -- in the event of what looks likely to be an easy victory for the right.

Born in Moldova, Lieberman is a former bouncer who has a reputation as a firebrand with a strongly anti-Arab stance.

He is known for his outspoken and markedly 'undiplomatic' approach which in recent months has included a demand that the Middle East Quartet work to remove Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, whom he claims is waging "diplomatic terror" on Israel.

Despite his role as Israel's top diplomat, Lieberman has been sidelined by the Netanyahu administration from top-level contacts with the United States as well as from any involvement in negotiations with the Palestinians, which have been frozen for over two years.

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