Liberman, Bennett spar over Gaza policies

Liberman: Bennett is acting for votes, not security.

Naftali Bennett (left) and Avigdor Liberman (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM & GPO)
Naftali Bennett (left) and Avigdor Liberman
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM & GPO)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett – who hopes to succeed Liberman in his post – continued their recent mutual recriminations Sunday when they verbally sparred over Liberman’s policies in Gaza.
In an interview with Israel Radio, Liberman accused Bennett of acting only for his own political good and not the country’s defense. He called him “messianic and populist” and questioned why he was attacking only him and not Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“His considerations are elections and the struggle for votes, with no connection to security,” Liberman said. “It is too bad that there are politicians who are ready to sacrifice our soldiers on the altar of a political battle and to push for unjustified operations.”
Liberman referred to Bennett’s plans for mass air strikes in Gaza, which he has submitted to the security cabinet.
“We have fought against terror every day over the past two years,” Liberman said. “Two hundred Hamas operatives have been killed, 5,000 wounded, 16 terror tunnels destroyed; we have hit dozens of terror infrastructure targets. Every day we are doing it.”
Bennett responded further in a speech at the opening of a medical school at Ariel University, accusing Liberman of giving into Mafia-style tactics used by Hamas. He said Hamas has made demands for a year in return for stopping terror, and Israel should not give in.
“Whoever surrenders to demands for protection money will bring about war,” Bennett said. “Israel must not surrender to the threats of Hamas.”
Bennett said that instead, Hamas must be made to understand that it will pay a significant price every time it hurt Israelis.
Liberman said that despite the fight with Bennett, he did not believe elections are coming soon.
“We have a good, nationalist government,” Liberman said. “There is no real reason for an early election.”