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IAI's new generation ELI-3360 Maritime Patrol Aircraft / Courtesy

In a move that seemingly contradicts the conventional media views of his self-interested party boss manner, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) on Monday appointed two talented men to head two of Israel’s top military industrial institutions, despite the fact that both men have walked out on his party a year ago.

Liberman appointed Yair Shamir as chairman of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), and Yitzhak Aharonovich as chairman of Israel Military Industries (IMI). The appointments were made in coordination with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu). The announcement of the two appointments said that “these are the most appropriate people for these roles and they will advance the companies they will head.”

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The son of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, Yair Shamir served as MK for Yisrael Beiteinu between 2013 and 2015, and held the post of Minister of Agriculture. Shamir has already served as chairman of IAI, between 2005 and 2011, when Defense Minister Ehud Barak removed him from office. He was credited with the company’s stunning recovery, most importantly because in his first year as chairman he replaced 13 of the company’s 19 top managers. Under his leadership the company’s net profit grew from $2 million in 2005 to $130 million in 2006, with revenues growing from $2.341 billion to $3.148 billion by 2010. Shamir issued Israel Aerospace Industries tradable bonds worth $363,360. He also took IAI to the Russian market, established a leading position in the drone industry and launched four space satellites.

In January 2015 Shamir, whom Liberman had appointed party leader in 2012, announced he was leaving the party and would not run in the 2015 elections because of disagreements with Liberman over foreign policy.

Incidentally, in an interview with The Jewish Press in 2004, Shamir said that he did not believe in surrendering Israeli-controlled land to the Arabs, and criticized Benjamin Netanyahu for caving in to pressure too easily. Shamir stressed that Israel should do what it thinks is right without regard to what the world thinks.

Yitzhak Aharonovich in January 2015 announced that he was retiring from politics, and would not run in the 2015 elections, but did not spell out his reasons. His tenure as Minister of Public Security was marred with the escalation of terrorism in Jerusalem, including attacks on the light rail, a gas station, and the Temple Mount police post, several ramming attacks, the Har Nof synagogue massacre, the assassination attempt on Yehuda Glick, and countless riots on the Temple Mounts. Several high-ranking police officers were forced to retire over sex abuse violations. Aharonovich was criticized by many for his failure to instill law and order, most notably by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and by political rival Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi).

A former commander of the Border Police, Aharonovich’s only experience in corporate management was his one year (2004 to 2005) as director-general of the Dan Bus Company.

In 2009, Aharonovich was widely criticized and forced to apologize for telling an undercover police detective in Tel Aviv’s Central Bus Station that he looked as dirty as an “Araboosh,” the Hebrew equivalent for the N word for Arabs.

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