Lieberman Condemns 'One-sided' Media Coverage of Israel's Social Protests

Foreign Minister says some of those taking part in Israel's social protests are 'opportunists,' Israel is a 'stable democracy' with a lot to 'be proud of'; Shimon Peres meets with head of Benjamin Netanyahu's new team appointed to deal with protesters' demands.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday condemned the media coverage of Israel's social protest, claiming that the government is behaving responsibly, and added that some of those taking part in the protests are opportunists.

When I see the protests and what is happening in London, I see an island of stability here, said Lieberman, in an interview on Israel Radio. We are a stable democracy. There is also a lot to fix in our society, but overall there are things that we can be proud of, he added.

Lieberman - Fattal - July 20, 2011
Michal Fattal

A protest of 300,000 people is not an artificial thing, he said.

Lieberman rejected claims that he spent thousands of shekels on dinner during the protest on Saturday, and criticized the media. The media has to check itself, their coverage of the protest is very one-sided and brutal, he said.

When asked whether he had thought about not going out for an expensive dinner as people protested across Israel on Saturday, he answered that I think that being an opportunist is the last thing that is needed (in the protest). I dont intend to change my life only because of this. I  see people at the different protests and I see that they are opportunists, along for the ride.

This was not the first time that Lieberman addressed the protest. On Sunday he told reporters that the protest is real and not just sushi and nargilas. He also added that it was important to see the glass half-full, adding that he the fact that he could not find a place at a restaurant in Tel Aviv on the weekend was a good sign.

A serious change of priorities

Meanwhile, President Shimon Peres met Professor Manuel Trajtenberg, the head of the Team for Socio-economic Change appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address the issues raised by protesters.

We cannot allow the social protest movement to end up as a disappointment, Peres said. We must carry out a serious change of priorities in the State of Israel.

There is a feeling that a large protest movement of hundreds of thousands of people has developed, and we need to remember that it will be hard to maintain it for a long period of time. This means that we must think about what will happen after the protests, because if there is no solution, there will be bitterness and disappointment.

During the meeting, Professor Trajtenberg asked activists to give him and colleagues on the team a chance. Transport Minister Israel Katz, one of the members of the new team, who visited the tent protest city on Rothschild twice this week, said that was no way of solving the problems raised by the protesters without a discussion.