Liberman expects Trump’s peace push to be ‘real’ and ‘honest’
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Liberman expects Trump’s peace push to be ‘real’ and ‘honest’

Defense minister compares modern Palestinian leadership to Nazi-supporting mufti of Jerusalem, wishes Barghouti ‘bon appetit’

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Defense Minister and leader of Israel Beytenu party, Avigdor Liberman, leads the faction meeting at the Knesset on March 20, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Defense Minister and leader of Israel Beytenu party, Avigdor Liberman, leads the faction meeting at the Knesset on March 20, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Monday that he does not know the details of US President Donald Trump’s anticipated peace push, but is certain the plan will be “real” and “honest.”

Ahead of the president’s Israel visit later this month, Liberman said the administration is “very friendly, and understands our issues in the Middle East,” he said, adding that Israel has “many reasons to be pleased” with the new US leadership.

Trump is due in Israel on May 22, part of his first overseas trip as president.

Speaking at the start of the weekly faction meeting of his Yisrael Beyteinu party, Liberman called on Israel to officially mark VE day, the anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, which falls on May 8.

Liberman pointed out that it has been 72 years since the defeat of the Nazis. He then went on to compare the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini, who met with Adolf Hitler and supported the Nazis, to contemporary Palestinian terror groups and Arab Israeli lawmakers who he said also seek Israel’s destruction.

“Today, too, we see the bearers of Husseini’s legacy,” said Liberman in wide-ranging comments, listing Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, the Northern Islamic Branch leader Raed Salah, and former MK Basel Ghattas who was caught smuggling cellphones to Palestinian terror prisoners. He later added to his list Arab MKs who skipped former president Shimon Peres’s funeral.

He was also dismissive of the Palestinian prisoners hunger strike, maintaining the matter was a political battle between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and imprisoned terror leader Marwan Barghouti. On the latter, who was allegedly caught on camera sneaking food, he remarked: “I wish him bon appetit.”

In his remarks, Liberman also expressed opposition to attempts by his ultra-Orthodox coalition partners to present a law enforcing the closure of stores in Tel Aviv on Shabbat, circumventing a High Court of Justice order.

“We are living with a status quo that has been created over many years,” he said, opining that the issue should be handled on a local municipal level.

“I think that this intervention on the matter of Shabbat in Tel Aviv has no place,” he added.

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