Liberman Under Fire From Right Over Yehudah and Shomron Remarks

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman at a conference in Ashdod on Thursday. (Flash90)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman at a conference in Ashdod on Thursday. (Flash90)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, for years a firebrand of Israel’s right wing, has found himself on the receiving end of outraged right-wing politicians for suggesting a compromise on building in Yehudah and Shomron.

Tuesday, Liberman said the government should make a deal with the incoming Trump administration to build in the existing Jewish blocs of Yehudah and Shomron in return for a freeze in the Palestinian areas.

Thursday, the Jewish Home Party characterized Liberman as a “relentless chatterbox” who would do better to “focus on the elimination of (Hamas leader Ismail) Haniyeh, instead of establishing a Palestinian state along Route 6.”

Liberman had pledged to have Haniyeh killed within 48 hours of his appointment to the defense ministry, a month before he entered the post. Haniyeh is still alive.

Shevach Stern, a senior Likud official, told Arutz Sheva that “to say that we will build only in the ‘settlement blocs’ is a horrible statement. Is he trying to avoid the essential issues of the ‘settlements’?” Stern wondered.

“Liberman represents a party of five mandates, and I bet you that most of his party is not represented,” Stern said.

“But when the defense minister says something, the U.S. takes it seriously. So why move ahead of the new American administration, which will probably be more sympathetic?”

Stern said he now regrets that the Likud National Headquarters supported Liberman’s joining the coalition five months ago.

“We expect the prime minister to express his opinion and say that the freeze is ending and that construction will resume. It is the Israeli government which will determine this.”

However, on Wednesday, Netanyahu was non-committal, and said only that he would listen to what his ministers have to say on the issue.

Responding to Jewish Home critics, Liberman indicated that their rhetoric has not borne results on the ground in Yehudah and Shomron. “What’s the use of slogans if you don’t build anything?” he asked.

“I’m a man of results, not of slogans. When I look at the past four years, and do a simple accounting of what has happened in the [region], unfortunately. the results are not good. Very poor,” he said.