Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) confers with Yisrael Beytenu chief Avigdor Liberman in the Knesset.
(photo credit: AFP PHOTO)
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman is best-equipped to fight Palestinian terrorism, a Channel 2 News survey found on Saturday night.
According to the poll, 73 percent of Israelis are dissatisfied with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response to the current wave of terrorism. He came only in third place in answers as to who would fight terrorism best and take care of security problems, with only 15% choosing Netanyahu.
Liberman came in first place, with 22% of the respondents choosing him, and Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) was in second, with 17%. Former IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi got 10%, 5% of those polled chose opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union), and 4% Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid.
The Yisrael Beytenu leader said in response to the poll that it is irrelevant, and that the government must take action.
When asked on Channel 2’s Meet the Press whether he would take the position of defense minister if Netanyahu offered it to him, Liberman said, “I don’t just want the responsibility, I want authority. I didn’t enter the government [after last March’s election] because [Netanyahu] would not meet my demands.”
During coalition talks, Liberman’s demands included that the government destroy Hamas and build in settlements and Jerusalem.
Bennett said of the poll: “We need to bring security to the streets of Jerusalem and all of Israel, and [Justice Minister Ayelet] Shaked [also of Bayit Yehudi] and I are doing things that weren’t done for decades.”
Bennett also referred to a recent cabinet meeting, in which Netanyahu reprimanded him and Shaked for behaving “like they did in Protective Edge,” meaning doing independent research in the field and openly criticizing the government. The scolding came after the education minister spent Simhat Torah in the Old City of Jerusalem and talked to locals and police officers.
“I was in the field for 24 hours and brought in practical plans, and if that brought changes, I’ll continue being yelled at, and I’ll be proud of it. It’s not my job to be nice,” Bennett said. “It’s my job to protect the citizens of Israel, and no scolding will change that.”
As for whether Zionist Union would join the government soon, Bennett said only if Herzog is willing to do so without the coalition changing its guidelines, which do not mention a Palestinian state or a two-state solution.
Bennett said the government’s policy has to be one of strength not concessions, calling Netanyahu’s statement in his speech to the UN’s General Assembly on October 1 that there should be a demilitarized Palestinian state a “mistake.”
“Two states is not a government policy,” Bennett emphasized.