'Israel should avoid political infighting, doesn't want involvement in Syria'

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman: "We aren't in elections, so it's wrong to compete over who is more right-wing."

July 3, 2017 20:39
2 minute read.
Avigdor Liberman

Avigdor Liberman. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)


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Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman issued a stern warning to Syria for the second day in a row Monday, strongly advising to stop allowing errant mortars to fall on Israel’s side of the border.

Speaking at the start of Yisrael Beytenu’s faction meeting, Liberman said he had toured the Israel-Syrian border near Quneitra on Sunday. He called upon Golan residents to go on with their daily lives and Israelis to visit the Golan.

“To our neighbors on the other side of the border, I say we are not looking to enter the internal Syrian fight,” Liberman said. “We are enjoying quiet, security and prosperity. We really will be angry if our quiet and security is bothered. If someone intends to violate our sovereignty, it is definitely not a good idea. I advise not testing us.”

A number of projectiles have landed in Israeli territory due to intensified fighting on the Syrian side of Quneitra as President Bashar Assad’s regime fights the al-Qaida-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other rebels groups. The offensive was launched by rebels in a bid to take control of the city of al-Baath (new Quneitra), which is one of the few towns in the province that has remained under control of Syrian- government forces.
Israel strikes Syrian targets in response to earlier cross-border fire, June 24, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

Liberman said he would also not enter the battle between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett over the latter’s bill that would require a special majority of 80 Knesset members to divide Jerusalem.

“Fighting in the coalition should stop,” Liberman said. “We aren’t in elections, so it’s wrong to compete over who is more right-wing. There is no point in mutual recriminations. Those who want the government to function should stop fighting.”

Netanyahu blocked the controversial legislation Sunday because he wanted Bennett and Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin to work together on a new draft of the bill, which will be brought to a ministerial vote next Sunday.

Liberman said Yisrael Beytenu would likely back the bill when it came to a vote, but he blasted the behavior of Netanyahu and Bennett.

Nevertheless, Liberman said he still believes the current government will complete its term, which is set to end in November 2019.

“There are those in the coalition who wake up every morning and look for what’s new to fight about,” he said.

“You don’t have to fight about everything.

No one has an interest in leaving the coalition. The majority of Israelis don’t want elections now.”

Bennett told Army Radio Monday that he is glad Netanyahu is prime minister and that it is important that the next election will only be in 2019.

Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.

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