Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday revealed his party’s campaign slogan for the upcoming election. “Ariel for Israel; Umm al-Fahm for Palestine."
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The slogan, which refers to the large Israeli settlement in the West Bank and the biggest Arab city in Israel, essentially reiterates' Lieberman's "peace plan" envisioning the transfer of Israeli Arabs in exchange for economic incentives.
In unveiling his slogan, Lieberman also announced that his party's new list would be revealed on Monday, and would be filled with fresh new faces.
Lieberman said that he was glad to see that there were "Jews, Muslims, Druze, Christians, municipality heads and kibbutznikim" among the list candidates. "I counted at least seven people with doctorates in Middle Eastern studies, philosophy and the exact sciences," he added.
Lieberman said that there had been a great deal of debate in the party over the election campaign policy. What ultimately helped him decide, he said, was a video screened on television in which the nephew of MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) stood up for Israel during the summer's Gaza war, after which, Lieberman added, he "had to go into hiding and flee for his safety."
The foreign minister compared Zoabi's nephew to Jews in Europe. "We are talking about Jews gripped with fear in Europe, who are afraid to walk around in skullcaps and sidelocks. Jews wearing traditional garb are unwilling to go into major European cities. What was infuriating, perhaps, was that we reached the same situation in Israel: That Arab teenager who identifies with and support Israel had to run away and hide, and he is a pariah in his society. That is the major thing we want to change."
The video by Zoabi's nephew on Israeli TV:
He added that Arab Knesset members should move to Palestinian Authority territory and lose their citizenship, and counted them together with Sheikh Ra’ad Salah, the leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement. “There is no reason why all those inciters and representatives of terrorist groups in Israel’s Knesset should not move to the Palestinian Authority. Haneen Zoabi, Ahmed Tibi and Ra’ad Salah — there is no reason why they should continue to be Israeli citizens,” he said.
Later, he added: “Israel is a Jewish state with maximum territory and a population that is loyal to the values of the State of Israel, to the flag and to the national anthem.”
Lieberman added that Yisrael Beiteinu would put emphasis on the Israel-Palestinian conflict in its campaign, and criticized politicians to his right and his left. “We have reached a crossroads, and decisions are needed,” he said. “We represent an innovative political view as compared with the anachronistic political view that others represent. All that Tzipi Livni and [Isaac] Herzog can offer, they offered at Camp David in Ehud Barak’s meeting with [U.S. President Bill] Clinton and [Palestinian President Yasser] Arafat, or at Annapolis." Criticizing the right, he said, "What Bennett and Habayit Hayehudi represent is a classic binational state. They need to decide whether they talk about a binational state between the Jordan [River] and the [Mediterranean] sea, or an apartheid state without granting the right to vote to all the citizens."
Yisrael Beiteinu's event was held in the shadow of an investigation of allegations of severe corruption against several high-ranking party officials, including Deputy Interior Minister Faina Kirshenbaum, who announced she would not seek reelection, and former tourism minister Stas Misezhnikov. Lieberman accused law-enforcement authorities of engaging in political persecution.
“The police have a right and a duty to investigate anything,” he said. If someone should be found guilty, he will have to pay the price in full. There are no doubts about that. What are my critiques? I spoke about the timing and the effort to obtain a conviction in the media. Convictions are obtained only in court. The attempt to convict us using malicious leaks and bias is, at best, an act of deception."