Israeli Arabs run the risk of turning to Hamas if the state fails to improve security within their communities, warned Yisrael Beitenu leader MK Avigdor Lieberman at a Jerusalem press conference on Monday.
For the last three years, Lieberman said, he predicted that Hamas would do very well in the January Palestinian Legislative Council elections. "To my sorrow, I was right." But, he warned, that "Hamas will win out also among Israeli Arabs" would be even worse.
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It is one of the many reasons for which the Russian immigrant-based party he formed in 1999 was running on a platform of security from both terrorism and crime.
To show that his party has the experience to combat these issues, he introduced his security staff to the media, including former Deputy Police Commissioner Itzhak Ahronovitch and former director-general of the Internal Security Ministry, Emi Palant.
Lieberman predicted that his party would receive 11 mandates in the March elections, despite poll predictions placing it at six.
"My political predictions have a tendency to be correct," Lieberman said, adding that he believed his party could be a coalition partner in any government.
"The object of any political group is to be in the government and not the opposition," said Lieberman. "I believe I will be in the government, that I will have influence and will raise the issue of security," said Lieberman.
Civil marriage was also part of his party's platform, said Lieberman.
Turning to another tenet of the party's platform, Lieberman claimed that there was a harmful contradiction between the Law of Return, which grants immediate citizenship to Jews, including those with only a single Jewish grandparent, and the laws of the state which fail to recognize these same people as Jews according to religious law once they arrive.
Since marriage and divorce ceremonies are done according to religion, these new citizens have no recourse to these functions, Lieberman said.
"You cannot let in 250,000 people under the Law of Return, but then say 'you do not have the right to marry.' [The state] has to give them the right to marry and divorce," Lieberman declared.
He added that he saw no contradiction between this view and his belief that Israel must be a Jewish state. In pursuit of a Jewish majority in the state, Lieberman has a plan that calls for redrawing the state's borders according to existing Jewish and Arab population areas.
As he has said in the past, this would allow Israel to retain settlement blocs in the West Bank on the one hand, and relinquish heavily Arab-populated areas in what is today sovereign Israel (such as the Galilee 'triangle,' the Wadi Ara area and cities like Umm el-Fahm, Taiba and Bakaa al-Gharbiyeh) on the other.
Lieberman said he believed that the unilateral withdrawal of Israel from Gaza this summer helped lead to a Hamas victory in the January 25 Palestinian Legislative Council elections. Still, he said, he would respect a democratic government decision, within the context of an agreement, to withdraw from more territories, including his own settlement of Nokdim.
Lieberman denied the charge his party belonged in the center of the political map rather than on the right.
"We are a classic right-wing party," said Lieberman, a former Likud member and director-general of that party. More to the point, he added, his is a party with a clear platform that doesn't rely on slogans.
The party will not put forward its Knesset list until February 8, said Lieberman.