It's tiring when you're faced with divisions - on both sides

Avigdor "Yvet" Lieberman had plainly had a hard day when he appeared at the JNF's reception on Monday night. Indeed, he made no secret of it; neither did Israel's UK envoy, Ron Prosor, who said feelingly that it had been a long day for them both.

But Mr Lieberman was among friends in a largely right-wing audience which greeted JNF chairman Samuel Hayek's pledge of "unconditional support for Israel" with the biggest applause of the night.

It was a theme taken up by Mr Lieberman in a distinctly tired-sounding address in which he acknowledged that Israel's "biggest problem" was its public relations and "our status and problems in international forums". But even more of a problem, he declared, was Israel's political system, reliant on a multi-party coalition. He had unsuccessfully urged Prime Minister Netanyahu to establish a separate coalition of the three biggest parties in the Knesset: his Yisrael Beitenu, the prime minister's Likud, and Tzipi Livin's centrist Kadima. Repeating his conviction - made in Israel last weekend - that "it is not possible to have a final status agreement with the Palestinians", primarily because of the Palestinians' internal divisions, Mr Lieberman gave an evasive answer when asked why he had backed a controversial Knesset investigation into Israeli NGOs and human rights organisations. The questioner suggested that it made it difficult to defend Israel as a democracy if it was instigating such an inquiry. But Mr Lieberman maintained a blanket belief that many, if not all of the NGOs under investigation were "using democratic tools to destroy the state of Israel".

Democracy, one was left with the distinct impression, did not cut much ice with the Foreign Minister.

Last updated: 3:58pm, January 27 2011