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Likud hits back at Liberman for comments critical of Netanyahu

After ex-FM calls PM’s handling of terror wave ‘catastrophic,’ ruling party slams Yisrael Beytenu head’s ‘automatic firing of empty slogans’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-foreign minister Avigdor Liberman in the Knesset, February 3, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-foreign minister Avigdor Liberman in the Knesset, February 3, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Likud party on Saturday hit back at former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman for comments he made earlier in the day criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the current wave of Palestinian terrorism and violence.

“There are those who fight terror, and there are those who engage in babble,” a Likud source told Channel 10 on Saturday.

“Liberman’s understanding of the war on terror amounts to the automatic firing of empty slogans, which have a merely coincidental relation to reality. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the security cabinet, the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet are fighting terror in every [way] and do not need Liberman’s evaluations [of their efforts] despite his military past and his understanding of the field, which amount to, as is known, nothing,” the source added.

Earlier Saturday, Liberman, said that Israel should return to a policy of targeted assassinations and criticized Netanyahu’s handling of the spate of terror attacks against Israeli civilians and security forces over the past two months.

“Netanyahu’s handling of the terror wave has been catastrophic,” the hawkish head of the right-wing Yisrael Beytenu opposition party said at a cultural event in Tel Aviv, according to Israel’s Channel 2 television.

“We must hurt the sources of terrorism and resume pinpoint prevention,” he said, using the Israeli term for targeted killings.

Israel says it carries out the killings as a preventative measure against those who mastermind or perpetrate terrorist attacks on its population. The Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that the measure is a legitimate form of self-defense, and detailed specific instructions for its use.

“The biggest funding source for Palestinian terrorism is the State of Israel,” he charged. “Every Palestinian terrorist’s family, regardless of the group he [or she] belongs to, receives from [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas some NIS 14,000-15,000 every month, from money the PA gets from Netanyahu, from taxes we [Israel] collects on their behalf,” he added.

The Yisrael Beytenu leader also vowed that his party would not join Netanyahu’s coalition government, and criticized the PM for his concessions to the ultra-Orthodox parties, such as the recent changes to the Equal Service Law.

“We are the only right-wing party that is also secular. When it comes to religion and state, Netanyahu is committed to the haredim [ultra-Orthodox parties],” he said.

Liberman said he estimated that Israel would go to another round of national elections next year and vowed not to join up with any other party, as in the 2013 elections when the Likud and Yisrael Beytenu ran on a joint ticket.

The former FM also issued a warning over the fallout from the dispute between Ankara and Moscow. The strife between the two countries erupted Tuesday, when Turkey shot down a Russian warplane along the Syrian border, which it said had entered Turkish airspace and ignored calls to leave.

“The dispute between [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan is not just another dispute. It has far-reaching geopolitical implications,” Liberman said.

Tuesday’s incident has sent recriminations flying between two rival players in the Syrian war just as countries such as France are pushing for a broader coalition to try to defeat the Islamic State group.

Moscow slapped sanctions on Ankara on Friday as the war of words over the downed warplane escalated, with Erdogan warning Russia not to “play with fire.”

AFP contributed to this report

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