Likud MK Benny Begin tore into fellow party members who supported the appointment Monday of Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman as defense minister. Begin also ripped into Liberman himself, for his statement late Monday proclaiming support for a “two state solution.”
Liberman thanked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement at his swearing-in Monday night, saying: “I listened to everything you said and I absolutely agree with every word, including two states for two peoples.
“There was a lot of speculation about what the policy of the government would be. I want to remind people that for many years Yisrael Beytenu decided, and I spoke more than once about recognizing, that same solution of two states for two peoples.
“I also believe that I was very supportive of the Bar Ilan speech,” he added. “I think that President al-Sisi’s speech was very important and has created a genuine opportunity. We must try to pick up the gauntlet. I absolutely agree that the Arab [Peace] Initiative also has some very, very positive elements that enable a serious dialogue with all our neighbors in the region.”
Begin, however, was not at all surprised at Liberman’s statement. He was instead surprised by residents of Judea and Samaria who he said should remember past statements by Liberman promoting Highway 6 as the western border of any proposed Palestinian Authority state. Begin said he sees any such state as a PLO state that will quickly transform itself a bastion of Hamas.
He added that residents of Samaria, or members of the Likud party who celebrated the appointment of Liberman as defense minister were “fools.”
Begin also said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wasn’t much smarter: “He knows that idea isn’t supported within the Likud party in the Knesset and not by the government he currently leads,” he said, according to Channel 2 television news.
“I was amazed at the joy with which right-wing activists greeted the ouster of [Defense Minister] Moshe Ya’alon in favor of Liberman,” Begin told Channel 2 on Monday night.
“It was Ya’alon who opposed the establishment of a Palestinian state,” Begin noted. He added in a similar interview with Galei Tzahal Army Radio, “It seems there are three types of right wing: moderate, extremists and stupid.”
Begin warned that it is likely that Liberman may implement policies that will not be “considerate, not be careful, not be responsible, and not be moderate,” based on his statements as a member of the opposition.
The Likud MK was bitterly angry that Ya’alon was inspired to end his political career over Liberman’s appointment. “A man who was completely committed to opposing a PLO or Hamas state, or who knows what might follow in Judea and Samaria, is not acceptable to them (Likud) while someone who is committed to that …. is kosher l’mehadrin? Begin said on Galei Tzahal.
Liberman has long resided in the Jewish community of Nokdim, located south of Bethlehem in the northern Judean hills.
Hana Levi Julian