Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman is under fire for pledging to put Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the ultra-Orthodox parties in a “landfill,” with Haredi politicians calling his comments anti-Semitic.
Speaking Friday to Channel 12’s Eyal Berkovic and Ofira Asayag, Liberman was asked if he would consider serving in a coalition with the ultra-Orthodox parties if it meant ousting Netanyahu.
“There will be no such thing,” he responded. “Listen, we’ll send the ultra-Orthodox together with Bibi on a wheelbarrow to a landfill.”
Responding to the comments Saturday night, ultra-Orthodox leaders called for an investigation. They also questioned Liberman’s mental health.
United Torah Judaism leader Moshe Gafni said he “expects the legal authorities to deal with this anti-Semitic statement.”
Gafni added, “Liberman’s despair in the fight against Netanyahu brings him to these statements. We have long treated him as someone whose mind has become muddled.”
Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush, also of UTJ, said, “It seems that the stage has been reached when professional authorities should be included in the picture. I am not sending a Jew to the landfill, God forbid, but a visit to Abarbanel [psychiatric hospital] would not hurt him.”
UTJ’s Yaakov Asher accused Liberman of “blind hatred for religion and the ultra-Orthodox.” He said that “Liberman is ready to use every possible slander, no matter how low,” in his “desperate” election campaign.
“It is time to put an end to incitement against the ultra-Orthodox public, which has reached alarming records in the past year,” Asher said.
Non-ultra-Orthodox politicians also slammed Liberman for the comments.
Likud’s Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen called them “borderline anti-Semitism.”
Yamina leader Naftali Bennett said in a tweet: “As usual, a few days before the elections, Liberman is coming out with disgusting cries of hatred to garner votes.”
New Hope’s Ofer Berkovitch characterized the comments as “shameful.”
Responding to the criticism in an interview with radio 103 FM Sunday, Liberman refused to apologize and slammed his ultra-Orthodox critics for their “hypocrisy,” saying that they were behind the “worst incitement we have seen” in their own political campaign.
“There is no one who harms the ultra-Orthodox more than the leadership of Shas and United Torah Judaism,” he charged.
Asked if he accepted the claim that his use of the analogy was reminiscent of “the worst period in our history,” Liberman shot back, “We need to send them to history, they need to become history. And in that sense, I very much hope that we will send Netanyahu to the opposition, and also [UTJ member Yaakov] Litzman and [Shas party chief Aryeh] Deri.”