Senior minister says Liberman will be next PM

Yitzhak Aharonovitch, who heads the Public Security ministry, promises Yisrael Beytenu to gain more seats if elections called

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, from the Yisrael Beytenu party, predicted Saturday that Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who heads the party, will be the next prime minister of Israel.

“He will be the next prime minister,” he said of Liberman, “you mark my words… He is the kind of leader that can lead the country.”

Aharonovitch stopped short of predicting new elections in the near future, but said that should the country go to the polls, his party would gain more seats.

He also questioned how long the current ceasefire with Hamas would last and warned that even a “drizzle” of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip would elicit a drastic Israeli response.

“Even for one or two mortars, we will respond with full force,” he said.

Minister of Public Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch. (Photo credit: Flash90)
Minister of Public Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch. (Photo credit: Flash90)

“The ceasefire will last, but the question is how long,” he said at a cultural event in Beersheba. “I want to be optimistic, but I am not so much,” he said referring to expected negotiations in Cairo.

Aharonovitch also lamented that Israel did not go far enough in its military operation against Hamas, and put the blame on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“We had legitimacy from the international community,” he said. “If we would have gone in, we could have done [it]. If there is a review, it shouldn’t be of the army or the IDF chief of staff. It should be of the politicians, the cabinet and the government.”

Throughout seven weeks of fighting between Israel and Hamas, Israel’s security cabinet was largely split on whether to expand the operation and possibly topple Hamas or work for a negotiated ceasefire that would weaken the group.

Liberman led the way in pushing for Israel to remove Hamas from power, and the day before Netanyahu ordered a ground operation, Liberman announced the dissolution of the joint ticket between their two parties.

Israel and Hamas agreed 10 days ago to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire that ended 50 days of fighting in the Gaza strip that reportedly left 2,000 Palestinians and 72 Israelis — 64 of them soldiers — dead. Israel has said that 1,000 of those killed were members of Hamas or other terror organizations. Israel also holds Hamas responsible for civilian casualties due to its tactics of firing from within populated areas and using human shields.

The agreement ended hostilities and allowed much-needed aid to flow into Gaza, while stipulating that most of the demands of both sides would be ironed out in broader negotiations expected to take place in Cairo in the coming weeks.

Even as the Egyptians have signaled they are ready to issue invitations for the sides to come to Cairo, there have been reports that tensions between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are delaying the start of negotiations, and Hamas has remained steadfast in its insistence that it will not disarm, one of Israel’s key demands throughout the fighting.

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