Economy Minister Naftali Bennett speaks at Jerusalem Conference.
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
The battle for the hearts and minds of right-wing voters in Israel escalated another notch on Sunday morning, with officials from the pro-settler Bayit Yehudi attacking Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman for statements that seem to be a departure from his hardline image.
On Friday, Liberman made headlines for praising US Secretary of State John Kerry as a "true friend" of Israel, a surprising sentiment given that Kerry is under withering attack from government ministers and lawmakers, particularly from Bayit Yehudi, who are hostile to his peace efforts.
"Liberman is afraid of [Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali] Bennett after seeing in the polls that he was losing support among right-wing voters," a Bayit Yehudi source told Army Radio.
Liberman told Army Radio on Sunday that "even if there are disagreements, one cannot declare somebody an anti-Semite or an unfair mediator. I'm against lashing out."
The foreign minister went on to say that he would willingly move out of his home in the West Bank settlement of Nokdim if it meant securing a peace deal with the Palestinians and ensuring national unity.
"These are things that I've written and said in the past, back in 2004 and also during election campaigns," the minister told Army Radio. "I am in favor of a two-state solution and I support [Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's] Bar-Ilan speech."
"Yisrael Beytenu supports an agreement, but not at any price," Liberman said.
Bayit Yehudi officials accused Liberman of "veering to the left of Tzipi Livni."
"It's obvious that [Liberman] is basking in the glow of American praise thanks to his concessions," a Bayit Yehudi official said. "We will continue to look out for Israel's security, and we'll do without these compliments."