Liberman: Hebron eviction threatens coalition

Opposition leader Mofaz praises evacuation, saying "the law is the law," but criticizes government's relationship with courts.

Beit Hamachela Hebron home 370 (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Beit Hamachela Hebron home 370
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman on Wednesday said the government's handling of the Hebron Beit Machpela affair was wrong and threatens the stability of the coalition. In light of the affair, Liberman called for decision-making power to be stripped from Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Liberman spoke hours after Barak ordered security forces to evacuate several dozen families who had moved in without authorization over the weekend.
The Defense Ministry's handling of Jewish settlements is raising tensions instead of finding solutions to the problems of Israeli citizens, Liberman said, adding that responsibility for settlement in the West Bank should be transferred to a special ministerial committee.
The evictions, he said, threaten the stability of the coalition and threaten to break it up, Army Radio reported.
Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon also said Barak should be stripped of his authority to determine the fate of West Bank settlements on Wednesday. "All he does is start fires instead of solving problems," said Ya'alon, whose comments reflected direct criticism from right-wing lawmakers of Barak over the issue.
Another Likud MK, Tzipi Hotovely, warned on Tuesday that Netanyahu must allow the families to remain or risk the collapse of the government.
From Jerusalem, MK Danny Danon (Likud) accused Barak of using the Hebron home to launch his reelection campaign.
Opposition leader Shaul Mofaz said Wednesday that the evacuation of the Beit Hamachpela house in Hebron was a necessary action according to the law.
"The law is the law is the law, and it must be carried out," Mofaz said.
When it comes to following the law, Mofaz continued, "there is no difference between a simple minister, the defense minister or any other senior official."
Despite seeming praise for Defense Minister Ehud Barak's decision to clear out the Hebron house -- which follow a recommendation from the attorney-general -- Mofaz added sharp criticism of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's government's relationship with the courts.
"In the past three years, there have been attempts at anti-democratic legislation and inappropriate hesitations from the government on whether to carry out the decisions of the high court and implement the law. I hope this is the last hesitation from this government, because the law is above all."
Labor party leader Shelly Yacimovich also expressed support for the evacuation of the Hebron house.
"The security establishment and the rule of law cannot be trampled upon," Yacimovich said. She criticized Likud ministers who opposed the evacuation, saying they should act like "ministers of a national and responsible party" and not compete for the attention of the extreme right.
Labor MK and former defense minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said Barak was completely right to evacuate over a dozen families from the home.
The location of the home in a Palestinian neighborhood of a West Bank city falls under IDF control and is a military zone, Ben-Eliezer told Israel Radio. "You cannot enter [a military zone] without first coordinating with the army," he added.