Calls to boycott Israel among Arab reactions to Liberman in Defense portfolio

“The Jewish state is adopting characteristics of a fascist regime,” said Joint List MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad).

May 19, 2016 21:15
2 minute read.
Palestinians walk past a sign calling for a boycott of Israel painted on a wall in Bethlehem

Palestinians walk past a sign calling for a boycott of Israel painted on a wall in Bethlehem. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO)

Initial Arab reactions to the appointment of Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman as defense minister were harsh, with one MK calling for an international boycott of Israel.

The Palestinian Authority slammed the appointment, releasing a statement saying, “The Israeli government sent a message to the world that Israel prefers extremism, dedication to the occupation and settlements over peace.”

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In Israel, Joint List MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) reacted quickly to the news on Thursday, by calling for an international boycott of the government.

“The Jewish state is adopting characteristics of a fascist regime,” said Zoabi.

She claimed that what allowed this to happen was the non-reaction to Liberman’s past appointment as foreign minister. Zoabi called Liberman “a dangerous fascist who should be in jail” and not in the government.

“The appointment of Liberman by [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu shows that this man is most dangerous. Someone who evicts indigenous people from their land, who incites against them, who incites against the exercise of the right to vote, encouraging a wave of field executions and murder of Palestinians in the streets, and who went to the court to support the soldier murderer [who killed a supine terrorist] in Hebron [on March 24].”

Joint List MK Masud Gnaim, the head of the United Arab List party affiliated with the southern branch of the Islamic Movement, expressed alarm.

“The appointment of Liberman as defense minister sends a real alarm to the citizens of Israel,” he said, adding that the alarm could start in the South or North, or perhaps the minister will start by bombing the Aswan Dam in Egypt, as he once threatened, or Istanbul.

Gnaim was referring to a comment by Liberman in 2001 where he said: “[Egyptian president Hosni] Mubarak continues to act against us and to travel for consultations with Saddam Hussein. If he carries out his threat and puts forces into Sinai, it would be an example of a [crossing] of the redline to which we would have to respond strongly, including by bombing the Aswan Dam.”

In the wider Arab world, the press was dominated by local chaos and war, but many outlets reported the Yisrael Beitenu chairman’s appointment, sometimes with revealing headlines.

“Liberman... Crises maker leads the ‘army of occupation,’” ran the story headline in the Egyptian El-Watan, which tends to support the regime.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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