Israel Daily, Dec 14: Foreign Minister Breaks with Netanyahu & “Hysterical” Likud Party

Israel’s forthcoming election has already split the Government, with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman denouncing the “hysterical” Likud Party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The outburst of Lieberman, who heads the right-wing Yisrael Beytenu Party, was spurred by the remark of a Likud MP who said a vote in March for Yisrael Beytenu would bring a left-wing government.

The Foreign Minister snapped that Likud is “hysterical, just like the Jewish Home [Party]” of Economy Minister Naftali Bennett.

Lieberman said his party is not looking for political mergers, but he did not rule out joining a Government coalition headed by the Labor Party’s Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni — recently fired by Netanyahu as Justice Minister — of the centrist Hatnua.

The Foreign Minister also aimed at Netanyahu, sayuing the Prime Minister had not benn firm enough against Hamas in this summer’s war in Gaza.

During [Operation] Protective Edge I said we mustn’t be drawn in, but we were [drawn in], we didn’t initiate. I [told the Cabinet]: Go all the way, don’t be “laflaf” [nerds].

Likud hit back in a statement:

[The Prime Minister] managed the operation firmly and responsibly, together with the Defense Minister and [military] Chief of Staff, and wasn’t dragged by a variety of different suggestions.

The operation was governed with a broad view of safeguarding the security of the state and the lives of the citizens and IDF soldiers.

It then repeated the claim that sparked Lieberman’s ire:

[His] remarks concerning his willingness to sit in a government led by [Labor’s Isaac] Herzog prove that a vote for Lieberman is likely to shift votes from the right to the left and bring about the formation of a left-wing government.

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

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