FM’s Syrian blast draws fire from opposition MKs

"Instead of calming the winds, official Israel is stirring them," Kadima statements says.

By BYREBECCA ANNA STOIL
February 5, 2010 05:09
2 minute read.

Although coalition members kept a tactful silence following the meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to discuss the latter’s threats toward Damascus on Thursday, opposition MKs could barely conceal their enthusiasm at the opportunity to blast the government.

“While the prime minister is trying to lower the flames in the north and reduce the tension, Foreign Minister Lieberman came around and stoked the fires this morning,” MK Nahman Shai (Kadima) said. “His statement that [Syrian President] Assad will lose his government in Syria in the case of a military confrontation is guaranteed to worsen the situation. The prime minister should call in the firefighters to put out the flames the foreign minister is lighting.“

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Shai’s party was quick to release a statement saying that “in the absence of diplomatic leadership, it is clear that the minister is acting irresponsibly by threatening a general war. Instead of calming the winds, official Israel is stirring them. Netanyahu must overcome his political problems and show responsibility for the future of the country that he leads. Israel is stronger than the saber-rattling and irresponsible outbursts of those who lead it.”

Netanyahu reportedly warned his ministers – and by extension coalition MKs – against any further comments regarding Syria. Lieberman’s statements came days after Defense Minister Ehud Barak reiterated the need to sit down for peace talks with Damascus.

Lieberman did have one supporter among the opposition’s ranks. “In defense of the minister, one should remember that, thus far, the only ones who led us into wars were the weak governments, which pleaded to capitulate and received wars in exchange,” said MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union). “Just ask [former prime minister Ehud] Olmert.”

“Netanyahu can say all day and night that he wants to make peace with Syria. The message, however, that the world will hear are the remarks made by the foreign minister,” complained MK Haim Oron (Meretz). “He is constantly issuing threats – in the past, they were directed at Egypt and the Palestinians, and now they are directed at the Syrians.”

The Labor “rebels” also jumped at the opportunity to criticize Lieberman, whose appointment as foreign minister was one of their key arguments against joining the coalition last March.

MK Eitan Cabel (Labor) called on Netanyahu to fire Lieberman.

“Such a sensitive job must not be held by a reckless person who crosses all the lines,” Cabel said.


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