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December 2, 2013 11:59 am

NY Times: Israel FM Lieberman Loses ‘Abrasive’ Style to Become ‘Conciliatory Diplomat’ Hoping to Follow Netanyahu as PM

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avatar by Joshua Levitt

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Photo: Pinheiro Roosewelt.

“Israel’s new-old foreign minister is a bit hard to recognize these days,” begins a news article by New York Times Jerusalem Correspondent Jodi Rudoren about the return of Avigdor Lieberman after an 11-month hiatus due to corruption charges that proved unfounded. In that time, she wrote on Monday, Lieberman has shed his abrasive tone and has returned more diplomatic, and fitting of his role of Foreign Minister. 

“Gone, for now at least, is the abrasive, blunt gadfly who was shunned by the White House and clashed publicly with former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton over Jewish settlements in the West Bank,” Rudoren wrote in The New York Times.

“In his place is a conciliatory diplomat urging calmer conversation with Washington over Iran’s nuclear program: Mr. Lieberman made a point of seeing the American ambassador to Israel the day he returned to his post and expects to meet with Secretary of State John Kerry next weekend.”

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The article paints the transformation as a prelude to a move to follow Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister.

“Rivals and political analysts see the changes as a superficial pivot by an ambitious politician who needs to broaden his base and improve his international standing in hopes of soon seeking the premiership. Friends and aides say what seems like a transformation is really the emergence of the pragmatic, reasonable, even thoughtful man they know after years of unfair caricature,” Rudoren wrote.

The article was pegged to mark Lieberman’s first overseas trip since returning as Foreign Minister. He is now in Rome, and will then travel to New York and Washington, and then to Moscow.

Rudoren quoted a recent speech where Lieberaman said he “favored a ‘diverse, alternative, multi-directional policy’ that relied less on the United States, and that he would aim to expand ties with nations that did not rely on Muslim or Arab allies or seek foreign financial aid.”

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