Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
on Wednesday responded to the criticism direct at him following his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, in which he stated that it could "take decades" to reach a comprehensive peace deal with the Palestinians.
After Defense Minister Ehud Barak
accused the foreign minister of "playing into the enemy's hands," a senior member in Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu
party said that Barak was "dragging the government to left," adding that it was time "to replace the Labor Party
Barak had said that Lieberman's remarks did not reflect the government's stand. The Yisrael Beiteinu official responded by saying that the defense minister "is turning the government into a Peace Now government. Labor must be replaced with Kadima, in order to allow the government to focus on internal affairs, as it promised before the elections."
According to the Yisrael Beiteinu official, Labor – the Likud's
second senior partner in the Netanyahu government – "has 13 members on paper and theoretically, as it has failed to produce more than eight members for any significant Knesset vote."
Kadima issued a statement rejecting the offer, saying that the party "wants to make it clear to all coalition partners in the 'Biberman' government interested in replacing each other as an excuse for being in the government that this coalition is Netanyahu's clear choice, while Kadima is the alternative."
One of the Labor Party ministers, Avishay Braverman, has called on the prime minister to fire Lieberman immediately. He referred to the foreign minister as "subversive" and said that "his hallucinatory remarks were preplanned and timed and were aimed at heating the atmosphere and sabotaging the peace process. They join a long list of incidents in which he has undermined the prime minister."
Lieberman. 'Braverman should pray for my health' (Photo: Shahar Azran)
In an interview to Israel Radio on Wednesday morning, Lieberman said that last week Barak had spoken about dividing Jerusalem, adding that "I did not see any protests, although this is definitely not in line with the government's stand and basic guidelines.
He slammed Braverman, saying that "he should go to synagogue every morning and evening and pray for my health, because if he doesn't attack me no one will know he even exists or is a minister."
Lieberman went on to blast media commentators, who called for his dismissal. "All the journalists trying to create this crisis are miserable and I can only feel sorry for them," he said.
Washington officials clarified Tuesday night that Netanyahu, not Lieberman, was heading Israel's negotiations with the Palestinians.
Asked about Lieberman's speech, State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley told reporters to turn to Israel for explanations on whether the foreign minister's comments reflected the position of Netanyahu's government.
"I’m not questioning that there may be divergent views between the prime minister and the foreign minister, but I’ll defer to the Israeli government to explain the difference. The prime minister told us that there are difficult politics on his side, and this is perhaps a manifestation of that,” Crowley said at a press briefing.
The Prime Minister's Office clarified
on Tuesday that the content of Lieberman's UN address was not coordinated with Benjamin Netanyahu.
According to the statement, the prime minister "believes wholeheartedly that we will be able to reach a framework agreement within one year and change history in the Middle East."