Lieberman: Some Protesters Are 'Opportunists'

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman says he has little sympathy for some of those protesting high prices, saying they have their own agendas.

David Lev ,

Foreign Minister Lieberman (file)
Foreign Minister Lieberman (file)
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Although there had been fears in the government earlier in the week that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beiteinu party would throw their considerable political weight behind protesters demanding more affordable housing and a lower cost of living, Lieberman – for the second time this week – said that he had little sympathy for some of the protesters, whom he called “fellow travelers” and "opportunists," seeking to push their political or other agenda as part of the legitimate concerns of the average citizen.

Speaking on Israel Radio Thursday morning, Lieberman said “when I look out at the protests here and what is going on in London, I see Israel as an island of stability. We are a stable democracy. It's true that there are things in our society that need fixing, but overall we can be proud.” With that, Lieberman added, it was clear that there were many Israelis who were legitimately and sincerely distressed over the high cost of living. “A protest of 300,000 people, such as took place last weekend, is not an artificial protest,” he said.

Lieberman said that he believed the government was acting properly and sincerely trying to fix things. However, not all of the protesters were as sincere; many of them had specific political agendas – such as trying to force the government to resign – and they were “acting very irresponsibly. The media, too, must examine itself. Its behavior has been very one-sided and it has covered the protests with a political agenda,” he said.

Lieberman also tried to correct the impression that he was altogether opposed to the protest movement. “The doctors, the mothers, the teachers and the police are all correct in their demands for higher salaries and more affordable prices,” Lieberman said. “Israel's greatest asset has been economic stability and we cannot damage this by submitting to pressures. The first ones to be hurt by economic calamity will be the poor and middle class,” he added.