Liberman and Ya'alon.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman took his bid for Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s job up a level Monday, saying the latter harmed Israel’s deterrence.
“I have no doubt he was a great soldier, but unfortunately, as defense minister, no one takes him seriously; not our Arab neighbors, not Hamas, not Hezbollah and even not the Americans,” Liberman said.
According to Liberman, the only thing Ya’alon excelled at as Defense Minister was making gaffes and then apologizing for them to the Americans.
“I don’t think his behavior toward Hamas, Hezbollah or the US brought respect to Israel and did not add to our deterrence or the IDF’s power,” he added.
Ya’alon responded that “first he needs to pass the electoral threshold, and then we’ll see,” in an interview with Walla News.
Liberman announced his intentions to condition Yisrael Beytenu’s entry to any coalition on making him defense minister Saturday night, although his party averaged 5.4 seats in last week’s polls.
On Sunday, Ya’alon scoffed at his plan, implying that Liberman does not have good enough judgment for the job.
“The defense minister’s work involves efforts,” he said.
“I think that security goes beyond slogans; it takes daily work, hard work, responsible behavior and good judgment.”
Liberman made his statements Monday morning upon submitting an appeal, to the High Court, of Central Election Committee chairman Justice Salim Joubran’s decision to ban Yisrael Beytenu from distributing copies of the Charlie Hebdo magazine “survivor’s issue.”
The hearing will be held on February 17.
According to Liberman, Joubran’s ruling goes against “everyone who wants to see [the magazine] and identify with the issues of freedom of expression and democracy.”
Liberman criticized a decision by the Steimatzky bookstore chain not to sell the satirical weekly in stores and only online, as well as Joubran’s verdict as a “surrender to threats, terrorism and blackmail.”
Steimatzky’s decision came after MK Masud Gnaim (UAL) said “the country and the [Steimatzky] chain will be responsible for the results” of selling Charlie Hebdo copies, and that doing so would be crossing a redline as far as Israeli Arabs and their leadership are concerned.
Joubran’s decision was a response to a petition by MK Ahmed Tibi (Ta’al), who wrote that distributing the magazine violates the law against giving gifts as part of an election campaign, and warned that doing so would likely disturb the peace, because it offends Muslims by mocking their religious symbols. The judge accepted the first assertion and added that it would be better if parties worked to bring Jews and Arabs closer and not take advantage of the tension between them.
“One of the Left’s problems is with freedom of speech,” Liberman said upon submitting the petition. “I am sure that, in the end, the High Court will accept our stance.”
Last week, Yisrael Beytenu opened an outdoor “library” on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard, in which passers-by could read copies of Charlie Hebdo but not take them.