Liberman Accused of Cronyism

YERUSHALAYIM -
Former minister Uzi Landau, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s nominee for chairman of Rafael Air Defense Systems. (Flash90)
Former minister Uzi Landau, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s nominee for chairman of Rafael Air Defense Systems. (Flash90)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s latest appointment to a senior military-industrial post has drawn charges of cronyism, as it was the third such appointment of a former member of his Yisrael Beitunu party in recent days.

Former minister Uzi Landau was chosen on Monday to be chairman of Rafael Air Defense Systems, the company that developed the Iron Dome missile defense system.

The appointment follows that of Yair Shamir to head Israel Aircraft Industries and Yitzhak Aharonovich to chair Israel Military Industries. All three are former Yisrael Beytenu ministers.

“Without regard to the character of the appointees themselves, these appointments look really bad,” said Zionist Camp MK Eyal Ben-Reuven, a retired IDF major-general.

“The defense minister is appointing his cronies to jobs that put them in charge of billions. This raises too many questions. Yisrael Beytenu controlling all our military industries smells bad.”

Landau, who has a reputation for high integrity, declined to speak about the appointment, which he noted still has to be approved by the Corporations Authority. He said he would not respond to any criticism.

Like Shamir and Aharonovich, Landau has impressive credentials. He holds a degree in industrial engineering from the Technion, a doctorate in the same field from MIT, and worked at Rafael as an engineer before entering politics and serving as public security minister and Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman, among other posts.

Sources close to Liberman maintained that the appointments were made based on qualifications, not political affiliation.

“The fact that Shamir and Aharonovich were ministers in Yisrael Beytenu and Landau was a minister for both Yisrael Beytenu and Likud should not disqualify them for posts that no one says they are not qualified to receive,” one source said.

“It is only fitting that Liberman would appoint people whose abilities are known to him so he will know that the posts will be filled successfully.”