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Lieberman and Netanyahu at Knesset (archives)
Photo: Alex Kolomoisky
Lieberman: PM backed Tibi but not us
Conflict between foreign minister, prime minister escalates after Netanyahu opposes Yisrael Beiteinu's proposal to appoint investigative committee against Left. Lieberman slams attempts to 'de-legitimize' his party, calls left-wing groups 'terror organizations'
Conflict between coalition's senior partners escalates: Foreign Minister and Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday slammed the "attempt to de-legitimize" his party and its initiative to probe left-wing groups.

 

Lieberman spoke at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced last week that he would oppose Yisrael Beiteinu's proposal to appoint a parliamentary investigative committee against left-wing organizations.

 

 

"I have a lot of appreciation for the prime minister, and so I was surprised when he said that the Knesset should not investigate," the foreign minister said.

 

"In the previous term, 25 parliamentary investigation committees were appointed, and the Likud and prime minister supported all of them enthusiastically. They even backed (United Arab List-Ta'al Knesset Member) Ahmad Tibi's initiative to look into Israeli Arabs' public service. Why is the Likud treating an Yisrael Beiteinu initiative this way? It seems odd."


'Its seems odd' (Photo: Atta Awisat)

 

Lieberman said, however, that this would not lead to a coalition crisis, but added that "I definitely express the Likud leaders to show some loyalty and friendship towards a senior coalition partner.

 

The foreign minister noted that 10 rockets hit southern Israel over the past week, and went on to slam left-wing organizations.

 

"The last time IDF soldiers wanted to defend the State's citizens they were forced to deal with a de-legitimization campaign and lawsuits from all around the world. I say that before we go out to defend the State, which should check who these terror supporters are.

 

"I would like to clarify," he said, "that these are not left-wing and human rights organizations, but terror groups and terror supporters. All those Adalah, Yesh Din, Breaking the Silence, which provide distorted information as part of the de-legitimization. All those Marmara activists, who disrupted the IDF's efforts to defend Israel, who handed the names of IDF officers and soldiers to courts across the world and helped Hezbollah with espionage operations."

 

He accused the associations of failing to submit reports to the tax authorities, claiming that their members visit schools and try to convince students not to join the IDF.

 

PM: We must practice caution

Following Lieberman's remarks, Netanyahu explained his objection to the initiative.

 

"We are a democracy defending itself against de-legitimization attempts on the international level, and therefore the law against boycotts of the State of Israel and its citizens is an important law," the prime minister said. "Nonetheless, we must act moderately, cautiously and wisely in regards to the steps we take."

 

Netanyahu admitted that some things should be fixed, "but moderately and cautiously – because we must defend the rule of law, the legal system and the enforcement authorities. With this restrained conduct we are preventing the continued de-legitimization campaign blackening Israel."

 

He said that "we have always been and will always be the only law-abiding democracy in the Middle East, which maintains human rights." He quickly added, "Of course I hope this will change, but this is the current situation."

 

The prime minister clarified Thursday that he would oppose the proposal to appoint an investigative committee against left-wing organizations, but would allow freedom of vote.

 

"We don't need investigations at the Knesset, we don't need investigative committees," he explained.

 

After Netanyahu's announcement, which followed the public row caused by the Knesset's adoption of an anti-boycott law, an Yisrael Beiteinu official said that "we won't forgive Bibi for this slap in the face. The Likud will pay for it in the next elections.

 

Sources in Lieberman's party said they would "punish" the Likud in Knesset votes, committees and general conduct.

 

 

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