FM says he won’t leave coalition over PA tax transfer

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
November 28, 2011 15:22

“I’ve heard the infantile claims about the money belonging to the Palestinians, as if they can use the money to murder or incite to murder Israelis,” Lieberman says.

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Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman 311 (R). (photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman fiercely condemned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s support for transferring tax money to the Palestinian Authority on Monday, but he said he would not remove his Israel Beiteinu party from the coalition in protest.

Lieberman spoke at a faction meeting of his party after Netanyahu’s associates hinted the transfer would take place soon. He criticized reporters who misinterpreted the opposition that he declared last week as an ultimatum.

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“I’ve heard the infantile claims about the money belonging to the Palestinians, as if they can use the money to murder or incite to murder Israelis,” Lieberman said. “Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] meets the 1,000 terrorists that have been released or are about to be released and calls them ‘freedom fighters.’ He gives them $5,000 and more money for an apartment. He says the money is for their security force but it’s not true.”

Lieberman said he saw no change in the behavior of the PA that justified what he called “subsidizing terrorists,” especially when incitement against Israel in PA-sanctioned textbooks continues.

“We will oppose giving the money to the PA,” he said.

“We won’t leave [the coalition], but we will do everything possible to make sure the money isn’t transferred to the PA.”

Lieberman raised an uproar last week when three reporters interpreted what he told them as a sign he was on his way out of the coalition.

“I say to the journalists, reporting correctly is also an option,” Lieberman said. “You don’t have to interpret my words deceitfully. I am not issuing an ultimatum. All I am saying is that we consider the other parties in the coalition when we advance bills, and they should consider us, too.”

Lieberman reiterated that the party’s decision about how long to remain in the coalition would be based on matters of principle and not the ongoing investigation against him.

“I am glad to know that the Israeli press doesn’t understand the mind of Lieberman and Israel Beiteinu,” he said.

“There are no threats or intentions to leave and if there were, you would know it as a fait accompli. Political decisions by Israel Beiteinu will not have anything to do with legal decisions about Avigdor Lieberman. There is no connection between reality and most of the reports.”


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