Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu should have reprimanded Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman for calling leftwing organizations accomplices to terror, opposition leader Tzipi Livni said in a fiery speech at Bar-Ilan University on Tuesday.
Livni attacked Lieberman and Netanyahu for advancing a proposal to establish a parliamentary commission of inquiry to probe the foreign funding of left-wing organizations.
Netanyahu to Lieberman : 'The Likud is not a dictatorship'
Livni: 'An evil wave has been sweeping over the country'
She complained that Netanyahu called Lieberman to scold him for his attacks on Likud ministers who opposed the probe, but did not condemn the content of his proposal.
“The foreign minister is harming the country but the prime minister is more guilty than anyone because he makes the decisions,” Livni said.
“Netanyahu did not call Lieberman when he embarrassed Israel in the United Nations, when he told ambassadors that there would be no diplomatic advancement, or when he disparaged minorities.
He only called because he insulted his ministers.”
Livni said Netanyahu’s behavior reminded her of his controversial statement to the late Kabbalist Yitzhak Kadouri in October 1997 that the Left forgot what it means to be Jewish.
She warned that if Netanyahu did not stop the formation of the parliamentary probe, the world would turn even more against Israel.
“Israel today is deteriorating and abusing the very values for which we want to fight,” Livni said. “The way that Israeli is presented by the belligerent, violent government is hindering Israel’s ability to defend itself. The government tries to silence mouths and harms the country’s values, and at the end of the day, this harms the IDF’s ability to operate as a moral army.”
In a statement released at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Netanyahu criticized Lieberman for calling Likud ministers who did not support the probe “hypocritical wannabe connoisseurs.”
He said he told Lieberman that “the Likud agrees on the need to fight against organizations that act against the State of Israel and the IDF, but there are a variety of views in the party about how to do that.
“The Likud is democratic and pluralistic and is not a dictatorship with one viewpoint,” Netanyahu said. “All of the Likud ministers care about the security of the state and its residents and they do not need anyone’s approval.”
Labor leadership candidate Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog also attacked Netanyahu and Lieberman. He said Netanyahu’s reaction to Lieberman was “too careful” and failed to address the potential damage to Israel’s image created by probing leftist groups.
Herzog said the prime minister was fighting with Lieberman over rightwing voters rather than defending the state and its democracy.
“At this point midway through his term, it is time for Netanyahu to evaluate the performance of his ministers and replace them if necessary,” Herzog said.
Yediot Aharonot reported on Tuesday that Lieberman’s political strategist Arthur Finkelstein was taking a comprehensive survey on what the public thinks of Lieberman’s positions and his party’s moves in the parliament.
Officials in Israel Beiteinu said that despite the criticism Lieberman has faced, the public by and large agrees with his positions.