Avigdor Lieberman and Yisrael Beiteinu: obstacles to peace

AVIGDOR LIEBERMAN, WHOSE PARTY CAPTURED 15 SEATS IN THE KNESSET, FOUR MORE THAN IN THE PREVIOUS KNESSET

AVIGDOR LIEBERMAN, WHOSE PARTY CAPTURED 15 SEATS IN THE KNESSET, FOUR MORE THAN IN THE PREVIOUS KNESSET

The recent elections in Israel, which resulted in a strong showing by the political party of Avigdor Lieberman, suggest that Israel will continue its inhumane treatment of Palestinians.

The results of the  elections of February 10, 2009, for 120 seats in Israel’s Knesset, were as follows:

Kadima  — 28 seats; Likud — 27 seats; Yisrael Beiteinu — 15 seat; Labor — 13 seats; Shas — 11 seats; United Torah Judaism — five seats; The National Union, Hadash (Democratic Front for Peace and Equality), the United Arab List-Ta’al  — each four seats, and Habayit Hayehudi,  New Movement Meretz and  National Democratic Assembly (Tajamu or Balad) — each three  seats.

“The results of the  elections . . . clearly bolstered the far Right, which won 65 of the parliament’s 120 seats,” wrote Roni Ben Efrat, an editor of Challenge.  “Israelis turned their backs on the notion that the conflict with the Palestinians must be solved by diplomacy.”

“This indicates that the Zionist community has chosen those who are the most radical and the most terrorist,” said Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for the Palestinian Resistance Movement (Hamas).  “We are now facing three heads of radicalism and terror.”

Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home), led by Avigdor Lieberman, increased its presence by four  seats and became the third strongest political party in Israel.  Mr. Lieberman’s party caused the Labor Party to drop to fourth place.

Mr. Lieberman’s campaign was based upon a hatred for Arabs.  His campaign slogan was: “No loyalty, no citizenship.”  He proposes a requirement that Israel’s Arab citizens pledge their loyalty to Israel or be refused citizenship.

In Mr. Lieberman’s book, My Truth, the argument is made that the Arab minority is the biggest threat to Israel’s future.  He contended that because Arabs are disloyal to Israel, they should be expelled.

“In a proper state, Lieberman’s program would be declared illegal,” said Haneen  Zoubi, who became the first Arab woman to enter the Knesset.  “But the real concern is not his platform but that it has been legitimized by the main Zionist parties.”  She was referring to Tzipi Livni’s Kadima and Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud parties.

“The Knesset is always hostile to Arab Knesset members and we are well  used to their racist language,” Ms. Zoubi said in an article for The National by Jonathan Cook.  “Even the building shows us we are not  welcome.  Everywhere there are Jewish symbols — from the Star of David on the flag to the menorahs — that we as Palestinians cannot identify with.”

Lieberman, who immigrated to Israel 30 years ago from the former Soviet Union, formed Yisrael Beiteinu in 1999.  The party is made up largely of other Russian immigrants who support ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

On Israeli radio in November 2006, Mr. Lieberman called for the assassination of “militant” Palestinian leaders, meaning leaders of Hamas and other resistance groups.  “They have to disappear, go to Paradise, all of them and there can’t be any compromise.”

Haaretz called Mr. Lieberman an “unrestrained and irresponsible man” and “a threat [to Israel for] for his lack of restraint and unbridled tongue [that may] bring disaster [to] the whole region.”

“Lieberman’s party believes what all Israelis believes what all Israelis believe: that Israel is a Jewish state,” wrote Saree Makdisi, a professor of English at UCLA, in Counterpunch.  “Unlike the more respectable Israeli parties, however, Lieberman’s party is willing to add that since Israel is a Jewish state, non-Jews are not welcome.  Even if they were born there.”

Mr. Makdisi added: “Israel’s Palestinian minority faces forms of discrimination not faced by Jewish citizens of the state.  This hardly surprising.  As the state of the Jewish people, Israel is, after all, the only country in the world that expressly claims not to be the state of its actual citizens (one fifth of whom are non-Jews), let alone that of the people whom it governs (half of whom are Palestinians).”

“Despite some of his ultranationalist views, Lieberman does not oppose a two-state solution with the Palestinians,” wrote Ilene R. Prusher of The Christian Science Monitor.  “Most controversially, however, he says that any permanent peace settlement should include a ‘swap’ in which the Palestinian Authority would gain control of populated towns in Israel near the Green Line,  Israel’s pre-1967 borders.”

“The Lieberman surge is largely a result of the Gaza War,” wrote Mr. Efrat in Challenge.  “His rival parties, Kadima and Labor, timed the offensive prior to elections largely in order to gain popularity, but Lieberman reaped the fruits.  The intoxication of force, the abandonment of all restraint — sheer murder — well suited the party of Strong Man Lieberman, who means to teach the Arabs a lesson they won’t forget.”

Perhaps criminal activity by Mr. Lieberman will lead to his downfall.  The Jerusalem Post reported on February 15, 2009 that police had evidence that Mr. Lieberman was involved in money laundering by using  Cypriot bank accounts under his daughter’s name.

However, on February 19, 2009, the Associated Press reported that Lieberman endorsed Netanyahu, “all but guaranteeing that [Netanyahu] will be the country’s next leader.”   

In Gaza, Mr. Barhoum of Hamas said that the election results are immaterial to making a difference in the lives of Palestinians because Israel “is still working to eliminate the Palestinian existence.  Anyone who thinks that new faces might bring change is mistaken.”

Photo Credit:

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A BILLBOARD FOR AVIGDOR LIEBERMAN AND HIS PARTY, YISRAEL BEITEINU (ISRAEL OUR HOME) BEFORE THE RECENT ELECTIONS IN ISRAEL

A BILLBOARD FOR AVIGDOR LIEBERMAN AND HIS PARTY, YISRAEL BEITEINU (ISRAEL OUR HOME) BEFORE THE RECENT ELECTIONS IN ISRAEL

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