Lieberman to Taha: I hope Hamas takes care of you

Calls Balad leader "representative of terrorists."

jp.services1 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
A fight broke out in the Knesset plenum on Monday between Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Balad chairman Wasal Taha, in which Lieberman called Taha a "representative of terrorists" in the Knesset and wished Hamas would "take care of" him, too. The fight began when Taha interrupted Lieberman's speech during a meeting on approving incoming Labor Chairman Ehud Barak as the new defense minister. In the speech, Lieberman attacked Arab Knesset members for their silence on what he termed the "lynching in Gaza," referring to the Hamas attacks on Fatah members in the escalating violence between the rival Palestinian factions. Taha shouted back his opposition, after which Lieberman accused Taha of treason. Lieberman accused Taha of being an accomplice to terror organizations and said, "Your day will also come." The shouting match culminated in Lieberman saying, "I hope Hamas takes care of you, too! They would deal with you properly." Meanwhile, reporters who were invited to the Israel Beiteinu faction meeting Monday for a statement by their party leader were surprised when he decided to speak not about the future of Gaza but about the future of his faction. Lieberman warned Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that if he reopened the coalition agreement in talks with Labor or offered them an additional portfolio, he wanted the same for his faction. New Labor Chairman Ehud Barak hopes Olmert will expand the cabinet so there will be room for both MKs Amir Peretz and Ami Ayalon. "If Kadima opens the coalition agreements and the government guidelines, we will demand to be part of the changes and to receive the additional portfolio we deserve," Lieberman said. "We joined the government without getting what we deserved and without having a say in drafting the coalition guidelines but if they are changed now, we have to be a part of it." Lieberman said he was not threatening the government's future. He said he was upset to hear Labor Chairman Ehud Barak talk about setting a date for the next general election with Olmert. He said if the election were to be advanced, all coalition factions must agree. Lieberman also called upon Barak to support his plan to change the government system to a presidential system with direct elections. Interior Minister Roni Bar-On, the closest cabinet minister to Olmert, responded that the coalition agreements would not be reopened and there would be no negotiations about when the government would fall. Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.