Rookie Yisrael Beytenu politician Yair Shamir, son of former Likud prime minister Yitzhak, plainly isn’t afraid of speaking his mind, even when it comes to criticizing his own party leaders.
Addressing a conference in Or Yehuda Friday, Shamir, who is ranked fourth on the joint Likud-Beytenu list, said that if convicted of criminal offenses, his Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman must quit politics. He also accused the prime minister of flip-flopping on the issue of Palestinian statehood.
“A public official who faltered while in public service must make way for those who have not. Whether the offense carries the designation of ‘moral turpitude’ or not is irrelevant,” said Shamir, a former aviation industry executive.
Shamir, who only recently entered politics and was immediately placed by Liberman as his No. 2 in Yisrael Beytenu, specified that this maxim applies to Liberman, who is currently facing fraud and breach of trust charges.
Liberman was indicted last month for illegally helping secure a diplomatic appointment for former ambassador to Belarus, Ze’ev Ben Aryeh. He allegedly did so to reward Ben Aryeh for having given him confidential Justice Ministry documents regarding a longrunning investigation of his alleged major business misdealings that was eventually closed. Ben Aryeh pleaded guilty last year to handing over the documents.
If Liberman is found guilty, and if the crime is deemed to constitute moral turpitude, he would be ineligible to serve as a Knesset member for seven years. He resigned as foreign minister last month, shortly before he was indicted.
Shamir also attacked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, charging him with flip-flopping on the subject of a Palestinian state.
“Netanyahu is flip-flopping because he wants his voters to like him. The two-state solution is not part of the Likud’s platform. His Bar Ilan speech was never approved by Likud institutions or the government at the time,” said Shamir. “I felt uncomfortable with ‘Bibi’. He feels a need to be liked.”
Netanyahu first expressed conditional support for a Palestinian state in June 2009 in a policy speech at Bar-Ilan University. Channel 2 reported on Monday that Netanyahu reaffirmed his support for a two-state solution, but that he added the caveat that recognition of a Palestinian state hinged on the Palestinians’ recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, resolution of the conflict, and resolution of Israel’s security concerns.
Senior Likud-Beytenu campaign officials told Ynet that Shamir’s words sabotaged election efforts. “Yair Shamir is a political novice and has a big mouth. There are some things you simply don’t say three weeks before elections,” they added.
Shamir later apologized for his statements on Netanyahu, adding that he has full confidence in the prime minister and is positive the Likud-Beytenu will form the next government.
In one of his first media interviews as a politician last year, Shamir said that while he was joining politics, he had no intention of becoming a politician, a term he used in a derogatory manner.
“I personally, I don’t mean to speak any politics, because I don’t give a s**t [about] that,” he said at an October conference about the Jewish future in Jerusalem.
“I am going into politics; I’m not going to be a politician. I am going to continue my mission and if I see that this is not the right platform, I am going to another one, and I don’t care about what’s this or that,” he said.