Lieberman: Likud is Now Meretz

Ex-minister Avigdor Lieberman, busy trying to re-establish his right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party for the next national elections, hopes to capitalize on PM Sharon's victory this week.

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Hillel Fendel, | updated: 14:08

Lieberman feels that Sharon's victory in the Likud Central Committee on Sunday proves that the Likud is no longer a nationalist party - and he hopes to fill the void that has been formed.

Speaking with Arutz-7's Amatziah Eitan today, Lieberman warned that Sharon means to make additional very painful concessions: "The latest declarations by the Prime Minister's advisors show clearly that his gimmick of unilateral disengagements is now trickling down towards Judea and Samaria as well. It could be that we will hear news of this soon, first in the outposts, and then in full-fledged communities."

"Secondly," Lieberman said, "it is clear that the recent developments show that the Likud is turning into a twin of Meretz and Yossi Beilin. This leaves a vacuum in the right-wing camp, and I hope that we will be able to fill it."

Lieberman was an influential figure in the Likud when he served as then-Prime Minister Netanyahu's Bureau Director from 1996 until 1998 - yet he all but eulogized the party today. "The Likud is turning its back on the ideology set out by Ze'ev Jabotinsky that gave the party its backbone," Lieberman said. "I think it's grotesque that we see Jabotinsky's giant picture hanging on the wall at the Likud conventions, while in reality there is no longer anything in common between the Likud and his teachings."

Asked to explain how it occurred that the same Likud Central Committee that was "trampled upon by Sharon several times of late," voted to keep him in power, Lieberman's response was scathing:
"What interests them is not ideology, not Judea and Samaria, not loyalty to principles, but only power. The delegates come with demands upon the Prime Minister and the ministers, and they apparently get something in return... These delegates were drafted not because of their loyalty to ideology; in this Central Committee, there is no room for a nationalist personality. That chapter in Likud history is now over. What we have to do is convince the right-wing public that they have to make a switch in their minds, realize that the Likud is now Meretz, and vote for a true right-wing party."

Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party ran together with the Tekumah and Moledet parties on the National Union ticket in the previous elections. He said he does not see such unity occurring again, however. "Artificial unity that does not lead to a clear victory will do more harm than good," Lieberman said.