Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman on Friday said that the country had made a mistake by not supporting “loyal people within the Arab community.”
“We are making a mistake in our approach,” Liberman said. “Since the establishment of the state we have shown that we don’t know how to be faithful to friends and to protect our friends.”
“Everyone who has tied his fate to Israel has lost out,” he said of Arab Israelis, according to the Ynet news site.
In the same talk, Liberman spoke out against MKs Ayman Odeh and Ahmad Tibi of the largely Arab Joint List political faction.
“Instead of fostering and strengthening loyal people, we’re trying all the time to appease Ayman Odeh and Ahmad Tibi, who are forcefully leading the Arab minority to confrontation with the Jewish majority,” Liberman said.
The hawkish, secularist Liberman made the comments at a press event in Jerusalem, where he spoke with Arab Israeli journalist and television presenter Lucy Aharish.
Last month Liberman was attacked from across the political spectrum following a fiery speech in which he ruled out joining a government with either the “anti-Zionist” ultra-Orthodox parties or the “fifth column” Arab lawmakers.
He said the ultra-Orthodox parties were “increasingly anti-Zionist,” and linked them in this regard with the Joint List.
The dramatic speech, made just hours before Blue and White party chief Benny Gantz’s mandate to form a government ended, signaled that Israel was likely headed to a dreaded third round of national elections in under a year.
Two rounds of elections in April and September failed to produce a majority government and Israel is set to hold a third national vote on March 2.
In the past Liberman has referred to Arab MKs as traitors and has suggested transferring Arab Israeli cities to the control of a future Palestinian state.