Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, February 7, 2014..
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman has shifted to the Left because he has lost his support on the Right, Bayit Yehudi officials said Sunday.
The officials claimed that Yisrael Beytenu had lost 70 percent of its right-wing supporters, most of whom now back Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett.
“Liberman is afraid of Bennett,” the officials said.
“Liberman is now to the Left of Tzipi Livni, in favor of a Palestinian state, dividing the land and setting a border near the Trans-Israel Highway.”
Bennett himself made a point of not reacting to Liberman’s attack on him on Friday, but when the foreign minister continued slamming him during morning radio interviews Sunday, Bennett responded with a terse message on Facebook and Twitter.
“Our kids’ future is more important than compliments from our allies,” he said, without mentioning Liberman.
Liberman deflected criticism that he had fundamentally changed his positions, saying in an Army Radio interview on Sunday that in the address he delivered Friday to Israel’s Industrial and Commercial Association, there was not “one new word” he had not said before.
He added that it was important to look at what he had said in the past, and not at “labels, stereotypes or stigmas” about him to understand that he had not moved leftward.
That being said, Liberman acknowledged there were “substantive differences” between him and Bennett.
He stressed that he has said repeatedly that he supports a two-state solution, and that even before the 2009 elections he said he would be willing to leave his home in the Gush Etzion settlement of Nokdim if he believed an agreement on the table would ensure Israel’s security and vital interests.
“If we don’t get to an agreement and there is a conflict, it is important to manage it,” he said. “Managing the crisis is no less important than solving it, and the very existence of negotiations and the maintenance of our international ties are also important.”
Liberman, who on Friday said that domestic peace was more important to him than territorial control over all of Judea and Samaria, explained that there were those who argued that “not one inch” of land could be given up to the Palestinians, and others who argued that they wanted peace “at any price.”
“We in Yisrael Beytenu support an agreement, but not at any price,” he said. “It is enough that we [now] have agreements with more holes than cheese. We want an agreement that is all hard cheese, without holes.”
He reiterated that he supported Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s call for a two-state solution but stressed that his approach was “a little different.” Referring to his plan to move the border so large swaths of Israeli Arabs would be incorporated into a future Palestinian state while most of the settler population would be incorporated into Israel, Liberman said an agreement needed a “swap of territories and populations to create states that are more homogeneous and natural than exist today.”
He also reiterated his support for US Secretary of State John Kerry, saying that while disagreements were natural – and exist “even” within the coalition – it is unacceptable to say because of disagreements that someone is anti-Semitic, an enemy of the people or not an “honest broker.”
The foreign minister, who less than two years ago called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas a “liar, coward and wimp,” said he was opposed to personal insults like the ones thrown last week at Kerry.
“We do not have to take our friends and turn them into enemies,” he said, repeating what he said on Friday. “That is simply crazy.”