Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman launched a scathing attack on opposition leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, calling him “scum” and saying he had no red lines in his thirst for power.
Liberman, who leads the right-wing Yisrael Beytenu party, was speaking to reporters as he headed into the weekly cabinet meeting.
Liberman was asked to comment on allegations by a former activist in his party, who last week claimed he had offered to pay him $100,000 to kill a police superintendent. Liberman rejected the allegations and repeated his own claim that it was a smear campaign orchestrated by former prime minister Netanyahu in the runup to the November 1 elections.
Liberman asserted that sullying political opponents is a favored tactic of Netanyahu, describing the Likud party leader as “the scum of the human race who has no red lines.”
“It is clear that he understands that all that stands between him and being in power is Avigdor Liberman,” he said, alluding to the fact that his Yisrael Beytenu party has broken with the right-religious bloc led by Netanyahu.
But Liberman vowed that “nothing will help him, I will continue to stand [against him] and we will make sure that [his bloc] will continue to get 59 seats in polls, because that is what is causing him hysteria.” A 61-seat majority in the 120-seat Knesset is needed to form a ruling coalition.
He concluded by saying he hopes Netanyahu’s “fundamentalist bloc” gets even fewer seats than that on election day.
Netanyahu’s Likud party responded in a tweet that “Liberman the national instigator is under pressure” and accused the finance minister of behaving “like a gangster.”
“We hope he won’t offer anyone $100,000 to kill Netanyahu,” the party wrote and insisted that “Likud and former prime minister Netanyahu have no connection to the worrying claims that were published against him in recent days.”
Liberman, a former defense and foreign minister in Netanyahu governments, has in recent years turned against his erstwhile ally and has vowed to never sit in a coalition led by Netanyahu again. His Yisrael Beytenu, which currently holds seven seats, was for years been a vital component in Netanyahu’s bloc of right-wing and religious parties without which Netanyahu was unable to reach a majority of 61 seats in the 120-seat Knesset following each of the past four rounds of elections. Liberman’s refusal to join eventually led to Netanyahu being ousted from power after 12 years and the formation of the current government, which itself fell after little more than a year in power.
Regarding the allegations of offering cash for killing the police officer, Liberman dismissed his accuser, Yossi Kamisa, as “a pathological liar, a pathological miser who is obsessed with money. If someone offered him $100,000 to kill the pope, first he would take the money and run. I don’t know if he would actually do anything, but he certainly would take the money.”
Liberman said he sent a letter Sunday to Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara about the matter and would will file a formal complaint on Monday.
The letter, submitted on Liberman’s behalf by his attorneys, asked Baharav-Miara to immediately declare the claims unfounded, arguing that they were being made during an election campaign in an attempt to harm the Yisrael Beytenu party.
“The fact that the man ‘remembered’ to make such serious allegations 20 years after they allegedly occurred and during an election campaign speaks for itself, and proves the degree of ‘reliability’ of the claims,” the letter said, according to Ynet.
“Therefore your notification as stated above is required, immediately, in order not to give credence to such foolish and illegal attempts to cause harm,” it stated.
The letter also pointed to chronological errors in the claims that Kamisa published in a social media post about the alleged sought-for hit and in a media interview he gave afterwards.
“Kamisa’s claims are delusional and unfounded,” the letter said, adding that a defamation complaint will be filed against him.
Baharav-Miara will discuss the claims made by Kamisa at a meeting later this week, Ynet reported Saturday. But according to legal experts, there is a very small chance she will order an investigation to be launched.
On Thursday, Kamisa made a series of allegations against Liberman on Twitter, including that he had made the supposed hit offer, and that he had operated a Jericho casino whose proceedings benefited terror organizations, as well as having secret business dealings in Congo.
He also claimed Liberman’s ostensible connections to former attorney general Yehuda Weinstein had helped him evade the law in various criminal cases in which he was probed throughout his years in politics.
Police officials declared the allegations “odd,” and Liberman, dismissing them, vowed to sue.
The alleged hit offer occurred some 20 years ago, well beyond the statute of limitations. Additionally, according to legal assessments reported by Ynet, such a case would be Kamisa’s word against Liberman’s, with no additional evidence or witnesses to confirm the allegations.
Kamisa has identified himself as Liberman’s former assistant, though there is no evidence to support that claim either.
The finance minister wrote on Facebook that he planned to sue Kamisa for libel, saying the allegations were the “baseless” claims of “a bizarre person.”