Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman called MK Taleb el-Sana “a terrorist” after the latter interrupted the minister’s speech during a tour in the Negev on Wednesday. Liberman was surveying illegal construction in southern Bedouin villages.
The shouting match began when Bedouin MK el-Sana (Ra`am-Ta`al) began yelling at the foreign minister, who was speaking to reporters on the outskirts of the unrecognized Bedouin township of el-Zarnouk.
Liberman was telling reporters that illegal construction in Bedouin villages should be demolished, as was occurring in the Givat Ulpana neighborhood in the West Bank settlement of Beit El.
“You have no business to be here,” el-Sana challenged the foreign minister. “You are persona non grata in the Bedouin communities. You act like the mafia.”
“You are a terrorist,” retorted Liberman and added that el-Sana should be in prison. “Why haven’t you made your voice heard while the Syrians are firing at civilians and at mosques? Why don’t you go to Syria and see what is happening there?”
Liberman also warned el-Sana that “when I come to power I will take care of you.”
The Foreign Ministry said in a statement to the Nana10 news website that el-Sana deliberately interrupted the proceedings as a provocation. The tour was organized by the non-government Regavim movement that tracks illegal construction and land-grabs by Arabs and Bedouins in Israel.
“The provocation was made on the part of the foreign minister,” protested el-Sana, and noted that Liberman’s entourage had not included a single Bedouin.
“He arrived with a bunch of extremists on a campaign of provocation against the Bedouin,” he told Nana10. “I told him he had no business there and as a minister he needed to act appropriately because the Bedouin are his citizens too.”
El-Sana stated that the Bedouin refused to become enemies of the State despite Liberman’s efforts and that the foreign minister, who he described as a “dangerous man,” should resign.
Bedouin residents blocked the road and prevented the foreign minister from entering their village, shouting “Liberman, out!”
Meanwhile Liberman’s Knesset party member MK Anastassia Michaeli (Yisrael Beytenu) and MK Uri Ariel (Ichud Leumi) came under fire for their recent outbursts against homosexuals. Two weeks ago Michaeli stated that homosexuals are unfortunates who commit suicide at the age of 40, and a few days later Ariel suggested preventing gays from serving in the IDF.
Chairperson of the Knesset Caucus for Combating Homophobia MK Nino Abesadze (Kadima) launched a fiery attack on Michaeli and pointed an accusing finger at senior government ministers.
“I am ashamed to sit next to her in the Knesset,” she said during an emergency meeting of the caucus on Wednesday. “But it is not only MKs Anastassia Michaeli and Uri Ariel, but the support of Liberman, Barak and Bibi (Benjamin Netanyahu) who sit in silence in light of these statements. Silence is consent.”
Minister for Culture and Sport Limor Livnat, who also attended the meeting, expressed her dismay at the offensive statements.
“I am ashamed of the ignorance, illiteracy, dark views, intolerance and stereotypes against the gay community,” Livnat said. “Mostly I’m ashamed that it came from this house. I do not want to repeat the dangerous words spoken by two members of the Knesset, but I assume that there are others who agree with them.”