(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman issued a fierce attack against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, accusing him of lying to Israelis in general and immigrants in particular during the election campaign.
Liberman announced last Monday that he would not enter Netanyahu’s coalition. Since then, Likud MKs have accused him of betraying his voters, who wanted him to enter a nationalist coalition led by Netanyahu.
Speaking to his faction in the Knesset, Liberman said that throughout the campaign he consistently refused to promise to support Netanyahu.
“The only one who really misled voters is Netanyahu, who said he would help,” Liberman said. “He misled and lied. The coalition agreements don’t promise anything to immigrants. That is called tricking the public.”
Liberman vowed to give Russian- speaking immigrants the contact information for Netanyahu and coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin to enable them to complain.
Elkin responded by citing several clauses in the coalition agreement about affirmative action and public housing for immigrants and special help for those making aliya from France. He said that in coalition talks with Yisrael Beytenu, the Likud offered pensions for elderly immigrants that would have cost the Treasury hundreds of millions of shekels.
Liberman claimed “sources very close to the prime minister” offered him the Defense portfolio, a charge Netanyahu’s associates vigorously denied. He said Likud politicians are angry with the prime minister and that he “has more friends among Likud ministers and MKs than Netanyahu.”
Turning his anger to the press, he denied reports that he planned well in advance to remain in the opposition.
He said he made a decision only after seeing the coalition agreement signed with United Torah Judaism.
He wrote a letter to the Israel Broadcasting Authority asking for journalists to be suspended for reports that he felt maligned immigrants and Yisrael Beytenu.
Liberman singled out the head of Channel 1 news, Ayala Hasson, who tweeted in response that she has been attacked by him since she broke the story about corruption in Yisrael Beytenu. The Israel Broadcasting authority issued a statement accusing Liberman of “cynically attacking the IBA to aid his political survival.”