Liberman praises Obama, talks tough on Iran

Yisrael Beytenu party to launch pro-IDF service campaign; FM calls on Morsy to acknowledge continuing ties between the 2 countries.

Liberman BS 311 (photo credit: Benjamin Spier)
Liberman BS 311
(photo credit: Benjamin Spier)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman issued praise for the policies of United States President Barack Obama’s administration Tuesday at a pre-Rosh Hashana toast for activists of his Yisrael Beytenu party at Jerusalem’s Shalom Hotel.
Liberman’s comments come at a time when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been issuing veiled public criticism of Obama’s Iran policies. While the foreign minister did not mention the US president by name, his comments could aid Democratic efforts to market Obama as pro-Israel.
“To the credit of the United States, it is the only country that stood by our side in our struggles at the United Nations, the Security Council and UNESCO,” Liberman said.
“The US increased funding for Iron Dome. Even if we disagree sometimes and even if there is commentary that suggests otherwise, we must say we that have no better friend than the US.”
Liberman hinted at support for a possible Israeli strike on Iran when he said that Yisrael Beytenu’s presence in the coalition makes the government “more serious and determined to defend the interests of Israel.”
He warned that if Iran obtains nuclear weapons it would result in a nuclear arms race and the end of international anti-nuclear proliferation agreements.
Turning to Egypt, Liberman praised Cairo’s appointment of a new ambassador to Israel but said it was not enough. He called upon President Mohamed Morsy to acknowledge the ties that have continued between Israel and Egypt on diplomatic, economic and military levels.
Paraphrasing former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, Liberman said “Israel cannot be the whore of the Middle East who everyone enjoys but with whom no one admits their connections.”
Liberman mocked the Hebrew press, saying that he reads “the nonsense that poses as commentary in Israeli newspapers” when he wants a good laugh. Criticizing newspapers that say he recently adopted the Palestinian issue to help his next campaign, he said there were many good reasons to highlight Palestinian incitement against Israel and its support for terror.
Liberman said Yisrael Beytenu was the most ready party for elections, but that he preferred that the next election would be held on time in October 2013, both as a matter of principle and because of the changes taking place in the Middle East.
While stressing that Yisrael Beytenu would continue to act as “a stabilizing factor in the government,” he said the party would push three key issues: recognition of Ariel University Center as a university, low income housing and equalizing the burden of national service.
Yisrael Beytenu will begin a new campaign Wednesday to put the issue of haredi service back on the national agenda.
The campaign will urge Israelis to note with pride where they served on Facebook and Twitter.
The party will also bring its universal service bill to another vote in the Knesset as soon as legally permitted.