Bennett berates Lieberman for 'weakness' on Gaza
In fresh public dispute, Bayit Yehudi leader accuses defense minister of pinning hopes for southern Israel's security on Hamas' considerations as ceasefire talks continue, says voters expect a ‘heavy hand’ against terror, not excessive 'pragmatism' and disingenuous 'responsibility'; Hitting back, Lieberman mocks Bennett for 'hysteria and jealousy.'
“The Lieberman-Hamas agreements have crashed. The terror is continuing at the expense of the security of our residents thanks to Lieberman’s policy of restraint and weakness,” Bennett said, adding that he would be bringing the matter for discussion in the next Security Cabinet meeting.
Lieberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party issued a response to Bennett, saying that “the attacks by the education minister on the defense minister seem to point to his hysteria and jealousy.”
Both member of the coalition, the two ministers have locked horns over a number of issues and disagreements about the handling of Israel’s security.
“In the last few days we have witnessed the dangerous consequences of a policy of restraint and the weakness of Defense Minister Lieberman in the Gaza Strip,” said Bennett, who has openly declared his desire to snatch Lieberman’s ministerial position.
Local authorities in Gaza border communities issued new and updated safety guidelines last week in light of an increase in the number of incendiary balloons launched from Gaza, which have caused an average of 12 fires a day following a brief respite amid ceasefire talks.
“More restraint, more terror. Incendiary kites and balloons continue to threaten the residents of the Gaza region, the riots on the border fence are escalating and IDF positions are infiltrated by Palestinians without fear,” Bennett said.
“This is not the way to handle security policy. This is how a policy of failure looks,” he continued. “At the beginning of the violent occurrences, I presented a plan to deal with the Gaza Strip which is based a fundamental principle: restraint leads to escalation and this is what it has done.”
Continuing to berate Lieberman, Bennett said that the minister is entirely accountable for the current crisis gripping the border.
“The current situation is a direct result of Lieberman’s policy toward Gaza. Under the guise of ‘pragmatism’ and ‘responsibility,’ Lieberman has left the security of the southern residents to the considerations of Hamas. The time has come to tell the truth. The Lieberman-Hamas agreements have crashed,” he asserted.
“This is not the security policy that the public expects to see from a right-wing government. Voters of the nationalist Right expect to see a heavy hand and zero tolerance for dangerous Palestinian terror. This situation has to stop,” he added.
Rebutting Bennett’s bleak evaluation, Yisrael Beytenu sought to underscore what it described as successes of Lieberman’s policy.
“Last Friday, seven Palestinian rioters were killed, more than 500 were wounded and no Israeli was so much as scratched as a result of a determined and strong policy that has proved itself,” the statement countered.
“It is probably best that he focus on his failures in the education system and not interfere in things that require experience, responsibility and consideration. Minister Bennett is a full partner in the Cabinet decision and even when he bothered to show up at discussions on the Gaza issue, not once did he express his opposition to the Cabinet’s policy.”