WASHINGTON - Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman issued a calming message to the US administration this week, ahead of his potential appointment as Israel's next foreign minister in a Likud-led government.
In an article published on the US-based Jewish Weekly online newspaper Wednesday, Lieberman – who is perceived as a right-wing hardliner that could stifle negotiations with the Palestinians, stated that he advocates the creation of a viable Palestinian state.
Lieberman also attempted to explain his party's "no loyalty – no citizenship" campaign, which earned him the title of "racist" and "fascist" by his political opponents.
"During Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, I was appalled by the calls for the destruction of the State of Israel and for renewed suicide bombings that some Israeli Arab leaders called for at pro-Hamas rallies. Although 'responsible citizenship' had always been part of our platform, I realized that this was a burning issue that had to take top priority," he wrote in the Jewish publication.
"Yisrael Beiteinu has no objection to the nonviolent expression of opinion. It is violent speech that forms a clear and present danger that we refuse to tolerate," he added.
Lieberman stressed that there was nothing "far-right" or "ultra-nationalist about in his ideas: ” I want the State of Israel to remain a Zionist, Jewish and democratic state… We do not ask Israeli Arabs to share in the Zionist dream. We are asking them to accept that Israel is a Jewish state — the only one in the world."
He concluded by saying that he was looking forward to working with President Barack Obama, and that US-Israel relations were "as strong as ever."