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From Maariv this morning comes the shocking news that Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders has cancelled a planned visit to Israel because there is no Israeli foreign minister to host him. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is acting foreign minister, doesn’t even have time to see Reynders, considered one of Israel’s closest friends of the few it has left in Europe.

This latest diplomatic disaster should send shockwaves through the Israeli government.

It has been caused by Netanyahu’s decision to leave the key position of foreign minister open for Lieberman, pending the result of his corruption trial.

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Why would the prime minister of Israel endanger the country’s fragile diplomatic standing in Europe in order to pay a political debt to a coalition partner?

In this exclusive extract from Psychobibi, the explosive new eBook from DeltaFourth, we explain why:

As a young man, Bibi lived in the shadow of a dominant father. He was also most definitely in second place behind his elder brother Yoni. In the nationalist-Zionist set of the day, Yoni was perhaps seen as a future chief of the army, even a prime minister. Certainly the Netanyahu family saw him that way. His death in action –– both heroic and tragic –– preserved Yoni as he had been in life, a perfect example which any sibling could never quite live up to, particularly if he followed such a compromising path as politics. When Bibi first became prime minister, he might have overcome this. But his performance back then showed that he wanted to leave room for Yoni to continue to be superior to him. It was as though surpassing Yoni would’ve been an act of defiance against the father who idolized his departed son. So Bibi sabotaged himself.

Why would the prime minister of Israel endanger the country’s fragile diplomatic standing in Europe in order to pay a political debt to a coalition partner?

DeltaFourth put this family-psychological theory to Bibi as delicately as possible one day in 2003, riding in the armored car he called his Batmobile. He didn’t reject the idea. But the great communicator did get a little verbally flustered, surprising us by drawing on imagery from the classic BBC comedies Monty Python and Yes, Minister.

“I used to be in a hurry,” he said. “Now I’m not anxious. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. I only have to prove things to myself. I’ve climbed the greasy pole. Now I’m perched on a branch. My self is not determined by being Minister of Funny Walks or Minister for Administrative Affairs.”

DeltaFourth pushed him on the role his departed brother played psychologically in his first term as Prime Minister.

“In public life you shouldn’t press Rewind,” he said. “Or Fast Forward. You can press Eject, or you can press Play.”

Analyze that.

Well, without Rewind, of course, you can’t analyze anything. Bibi was offering the definition of repression.

Let DeltaFourth offer as a final piece of evidence the man Bibi chose as a surrogate for his lost brother: Avigdor Lieberman.

Those who saw it happen tell DeltaFourth that Lieberman engineered Bibi’s entry into politics and orchestrated his election as Likud Party leader and then prime minister. Bibi’s original patron, you will recall, was Moshe Arens, the American-raised Likud statesman who first plucked him from obscurity. But Lieberman is the man who made Bibi what he is today.

Lieberman engineered Bibi’s entry into politics and orchestrated his election as Likud Party leader and then prime minister

A decade younger than Bibi, Lieberman was born in Moldova, the Soviet Union. He left for Israel with his family aged 20 in 1978 after he was rejected from Kiev University for being Jewish. He changed his named from Yvet to Avigdor. After serving in the Israeli army he enrolled at the Hebrew University where he gained notoriety for participating in the violent activities of Kastel, a Likud student group whose members roamed the campus with bicycle chains picking fights with Arab students. The group’s leader Tzahi Hanegbi (later, guess what, a Bibi minister) talent-spotted the young immigrant and appointed him a bouncer at one of the student nightclubs. After helping to found the extra-parliamentary Zionist Forum for Soviet Jewry, Lieberman met Bibi in 1988 and became his aide-de-camp, enforcer and his first prime ministerial chief of staff.

In 2013, after a decade of police investigations, Lieberman was forced to resign as Bibi’s foreign minister after he was indicted for corruption. Until then, Lieberman had been Bibi’s enabler and protector. Even when he quit the Likud in 1997 and founded his own Russian-speaking party, Yisrael Beitenu (“Israel Our Home”), it was to Bibi’s benefit. Before that, Soviet Jews in Israel had been represented by another Russian-based party which after the 1999 election held the balance of power and handed it to Ehud Barak instead of Bibi. Lieberman’s new party wiped out the old Russian party and placed the Russian vote squarely behind the Likud.

Lieberman gained notoriety for participating in the violent activities of Kastel, a Likud student group whose members roamed the campus with bicycle chains picking fights with Arab students

People who worked with them have no doubt about the pivotal role that Lieberman played in shaping Bibi’s political career. “Bibi was more of a dreamer. Lieberman is very practical and streetwise,” says a former staffer who worked with both men. “He actually succeeded in giving Bibi the feeling that Lieberman would protect him.” Lieberman brought something else as well – an inflamed sense of paranoia that would see both men ditching their closest colleagues like other men change socks (you know what we mean: once a week). Could Psychobibi have chosen a worse role model? By swapping Yvet for Yoni, he replaced the poetic legend that was his real brother with a manipulative, corrupting bully-boy surrogate with a reputation for physical violence and illicit, possibly criminal, activity.

Psychobibi Amazon

From Psychobibi: Who is Israel’s Prime Minister and why does he want to fail? (DeltaFourth) by Matthew Kalman and Matt Rees. Available now as an eBook from Amazon

Follow @MatthewKalman

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