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Jerusalem - Strains Emerge Between Netanyahu, Foreign Minister

Published on: January 11, 2011 08:47 AM
By: AP
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FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, attends a Foreign Affairs and Security Committee meeting in the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem, Monday, Jan. 3, 2011. (AP Photos/Bernat Armangue)FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, attends a Foreign Affairs and Security Committee meeting in the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem, Monday, Jan. 3, 2011. (AP Photos/Bernat Armangue)

Jerusalem - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rebuked his combative foreign minister on Tuesday for attacking members of the Israeli leader’s Likud party, pointing to growing strains within Israel’s coalition government.

In a rambling press conference, Avigdor Lieberman criticized Likud leaders for opposing an initiative to investigate Israeli human rights groups critical of the government. He said it was a “strange spectacle” to see Likud members protecting groups that he described as “terrorist collaborators.”

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Netanyahu’s office said the prime minister “utterly rejects” the comments, reminding Lieberman that Likud is a “democratic and pluralistic party and not a dictatorship of one opinion.”

Lieberman, who immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union, leads the Yisrael Beitenu party, which made strong gains in 2009 elections with a nationalist message that, among other things, questioned the loyalty of Israel’s Arab minority.

Lieberman more recently has turned his attention to Israeli human rights groups, pushing parliament to launch an inquiry into funding sources of organizations deemed hostile to Israel. In particular, he is targeting groups that have helped seek prosecution of Israeli soldiers for alleged war crimes during battles against Palestinian militants.

Critics say Lieberman’s proposal would stifle dissent and limit democracy. Several senior Likud members reject the move, saying it is not the parliament’s job to impede public debate.

Tuesday’s comments were not the first time Netanyahu has had to rein in his cantankerous foreign minister.

Lieberman has embarrassed Netanyahu with his repeated skepticism on the chances of reaching peace, including a high-profile speech at the United Nations General Assembly last September in which he contradicted Netanyahu’s stated goal of reaching a final peace deal in the coming year.

Lieberman has also proved a distraction with his repeated attacks on Arab lawmakers, and by pushing through a law that would require non-Jewish immigrants to take a loyalty oath before becoming citizens. That proposal was widely seen as racist and anti-Arab because it would not require Jewish immigrants to take the oath.

In other challenges facing the government, the centrist Labor Party last week threatened to pull out of the governing coalition within months if no significant progress was made in peace talks with Palestinians.

On Tuesday, Labor lawmaker Daniel Ben Simon said he was leaving the party and becoming an independent in parliament. He said the step was to protest Labor’s continued presence in the coalition.


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Read Comments (6)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jan 11, 2011 at 10:13 AM Anonymous Says:

Avigdor Lieberman is a loose canon.

2

 Jan 11, 2011 at 10:35 AM Joe-Shmoe Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

Avigdor Lieberman is a loose canon.

In my opinion, he's a straight shooter! not that I think that's the right thing to do. I do howerver think that most of these opinions are to the point! For instance, I dont believe for a second that arabs are out to kill us! they constantly keep on telling us from one side of their mouth they want peace, while simultaneously stating with the other side of their mouth that they want the whole israel as palestine, that this peace deal is just part of their strategy in reaching that goal. They keep on stating that no jews will be able to live in their country. and that's why now this building in jerusalem in a complex jews PURCHASED from arabs, is creating such a rocus.

3

 Jan 11, 2011 at 10:44 AM kollelfaker Says:

the problem is likud their PM is trying to change what he said he would do does any one remember how they decided to change people position on the election list so they could not win and how they brought up people with less votes Lieberman is a conservative and reminds them of how they got into power he maybe over the top
but he makes for interesting theater

4

 Jan 11, 2011 at 11:10 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Joe-Shmoe Says:

In my opinion, he's a straight shooter! not that I think that's the right thing to do. I do howerver think that most of these opinions are to the point! For instance, I dont believe for a second that arabs are out to kill us! they constantly keep on telling us from one side of their mouth they want peace, while simultaneously stating with the other side of their mouth that they want the whole israel as palestine, that this peace deal is just part of their strategy in reaching that goal. They keep on stating that no jews will be able to live in their country. and that's why now this building in jerusalem in a complex jews PURCHASED from arabs, is creating such a rocus.

Lieberman is a buffoon who makes EY look like some third-tier bannana republic. He is laughed at behind his back by all his foreign counterparts in the U.S. and Europe and makes Netanyahu look like a fool. I guess these are all thea attributes that someone posting under the name of "JoeSchomoe" would appreciate.

5

 Jan 11, 2011 at 12:31 PM RebKlemson Says:

He's a real Kahanist. But realistically how is there ever supposed to be real peace? Imagine one day they started evacuating the west bank and "east" jerusalem. World war 3

6

 Jan 11, 2011 at 01:33 PM cowfy Says:

intresting how the anti lieberman bloggers are all anon.the fact is lieberman is pointing to the body of the matter and the likude(not for the first time)is trying to be politicly correct.why?G-d knows.bibi is not answerig the question avigdor is poseing albeit with a bit of real felt emotion.buffon,loose cannon,kahanist.wow he can compete with glenn beck in the sissy girl complaints against him soon.oooooooh!i like beck.forget bout cowfy he's not coheret.well as i.b. singer said the leftest are all hypnotized.

7

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