In an interview with Arutz Sheva Monday, Deputy Transportation Minister MK Tzippy Hotovely said that she would recommend that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “punish” Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman over the latter's announcement that the arrangement that saw Netanyahu's Likud and Liberman's Yisrael Beytenu run in last year's elections on a joint list was over.
According to Hotovely, Liberman is “perhaps the most cynical politician in Israel's political system today, with his nearly every move dictated by the way the political winds shift among the public.”
Earlier Monday, Liberman announced that his faction was splitting off from Likud's and will be independent from it from now on, as was the case before the two factions united in 2012.
"It is no secret that in the recent period there are disagreements between me and the prime minister,” Liberman said. “They have become disagreements on matters of principle and substance, such that do not make it possible to continue the partnership called Likud-Beytenu.”
As a result, instead of a single faction with 31 Knesset seats, there will now be two: Likud with 20, and Yisrael Beytenu with 11. With that, Liberman said that he had no intention of leaving the government or breaking up Netanyahu's coalition.
According to Hotovely, Liberman has never been a true right-wing politician, although he portrays himself as such. “How many right-wing leaders favor the establishment of a Palestinian state, as he does,” she queried.
The proper response by Netanyahu, she said, would be to remove Liberman from the post of Foreign Minister, perhaps to a different ministry. However, since this would probably cause Yisrael Beytenu to drop out of the coalition and bring about new elections, Netanyahu should at least “call Liberman over to his office and give him a piece of his mind, laying out the 'red lines' of proper behavior in a coalition,” she said.
On Sunday, a sharp exchange ensued between Netanyahu and Liberman over the appropriateness of calling for tough measures against Hamas terrorists. Netanyahu said that he was “uncomfortable” with calls by ministers like Liberman for tough measures against Hamas, while the Foreign Minister said that Netanyahu was “just as guilty.”
Liberman, among other ministers, has consistently called for tough measures against Hamas. On Friday, he criticized the government for sending “quiet messages” to Hamas asking for quiet in Israel's south, instead of going full force into Gaza to destroy Hamas.
“How can it be that, after we have three boys kidnapped and murdered, and two consecutive weeks of rocket fire, Israel's approach is: silence will be met with silence?" Liberman asked.
"Even while we visit here, Hamas continues to grow stronger, and produce an eight inch diameter rocket that can reach Tel Aviv and Gush Dan.We must accept the reality that this is a mistake," he added. "Instead of dealing with the problem, we are rejecting the problem."