Liberman, Gabbay mock each other’s parties in Twitter flame war
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Liberman, Gabbay mock each other’s parties in Twitter flame war

Defense minister says more people have fled Zionist Union party than bombarded areas in Syria; opposition figure responds with a jab at corruption cases dogging Yisrael Beytenu

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman heads a faction meeting of his Yisrael Beytenu party at the Knesset on July 9, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman heads a faction meeting of his Yisrael Beytenu party at the Knesset on July 9, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman traded colorful online barbs on Tuesday with the Zionist Union party leader Avi Gabbay, as both party leaders faced scandals in their ranks.

Liberman started the flame war by mocking the opposition party after several lawmakers left it or were suspended from it in recent days.

“I know areas in Syria from which fewer people are fleeing than from the Labor party. What is happening over there, in the Israeli left wing?” he wrote.

MK Eitan Broshi was suspended from the Zionist Union on Sunday after he was accused of sexually harassing a colleague 15 years ago, two weeks after he touched a female MK from his party inappropriately. An attorney for Broshi said Tuesday that he planned to sue Gabbay for calling him a “sex offender.”

On Saturday, party member MK Zouheir Bahloul announced he would quit the Knesset to protest the recently passed nation-state law, which he said officially discriminates against Israel’s Arab minority.

Four more Zionist Union lawmakers have left the party in the current Knesset, elected in 2015, choosing to give up politics and take other positions outside the parliament: Isaac Herzog, Erel Margalit, Manuel Trajtenberg, and Daniel Atar.

Gabbay responded to Liberman with a jab that referenced corruption cases that have been plaguing Liberman and his Yisrael Beytenu party for many years.

Head of the Zionist Union political party Avi Gabbay leads a faction meeting in the Knesset in Jerusalem on March 12, 2018. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

“Maybe,” he commented on Liberman’s tweet. “But we can agree that Igor the driver and the rest of the witnesses fled the country faster.”

He was referencing Igor Schneider, Liberman’s former driver who left Israel after being investigated in the case.

Liberman was embroiled in corruption investigations for the better part of 17 years.

Ten people in total, among them top former local politicians and party officials, were charged with a range of financial felonies in one of the most far-reaching public corruption cases in Israel’s history.

The three-year investigation, known as Case 242, became public in December 2014, with the arrest of 36 serving and former officials. The arrests came about four months before the 2015 election, which saw Yisrael Beytenu shrink to six seats, leading to accusations by party officials that it amounted to a political witch hunt.

Last month, the Tel Aviv District Court sentenced former party headquarters chief David Godovsky to seven years in prison after he was convicted of four counts of taking bribes, three of money laundering, and two for requesting bribes.

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