The number four candidate on the Likud-Beiteinu
Knesset ticket came under fire Friday after leveling harsh criticism at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
and former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
less than three weeks before the elections.
Speaking at a panel discussion at the Center for Academic Studies in Or Yehuda, Yair Shamir said Friday that Netanyahu "zigzags" on state policy.
"I respect Bibi, he is a talented, brilliant man, but I felt uncomfortable near him," he said. "He wants to be liked and to some respect, he zigzags in his opinions.
"The Bar Ilan speech was made due to great pressure, and not as a statement of principals," he added, referring to the prime minister's 2009 address where said he was committed to the two-state solution.
Shamir on Friday (Photo courtest of the Center for Academic Studies)
He further suggested that if Lieberman is convicted of the corruption charges that are brought against him, he should resign – regardless of whether his conviction merits the mark of moral turpitude.
Shamir, former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir's
son, is a member of Yisrael Beiteinu, which has merged with the Likud ahead of the elections. He is expected to become a Knesset member for the first time come January 22.
Top officials within the Likud blasted Shamir, likening his statement to a "terror attack" that has put the campaign in jeopardy.
"There are some things that one doesn’t say three weeks before an election, even if one thinks them," one official said. "Yair Shamir is new to politics and has a big mouth. It's not right to behave this way during the campaign season."
Another official said that Shamir is known for his individualistic opinions and therefore must be monitored closely.
"We've been afraid he would run his mouth because he doesn't fear Lieberman, and definitely not Netanyahu," he said.
Faced with the disapproval, Shamir issued a statement meant to qualify his earlier remarks.
"I'm sorry my comments were misunderstood," he said. "I respect the prime minister, and as I said before, he is a talented and brilliant man. I have no doubt that the Likud-Beiteinu will form the next government under Benjamin Netanyahu's leadership."
He did not address his comments on Lieberman.
Yuval Karni is a Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth correspondent