Yisrael Beitenu chairman Avigdor Lieberman published an article on Wednesday in the New York weekly newspaper The Jewish Week in which he stated that he advocates the establishment of a Palestinian state.
In the article, Lieberman expresses puzzlement at the fact that he is widely viewed as extremist, and that he has been labeled a member of the "far right" and an "ultra-nationalist."
"I want the State of Israel to remain a Zionist, Jewish and democratic state. There is nothing 'far' or 'ultra' about those ideals. I also advocate the creation of a viable Palestinian state," Lieberman wrote.
Lieberman has stoked controversy by saying Israeli Arabs should pass a loyalty test or lose citizenship. He has also voiced support for the transfer of Israeli Arab towns to Palestinian jurisdiction and the annexation of large Jewish settlements in the West Bank to Israel.
The article deals mostly with the central idea of Yisrael Beitenu's platform - amending the citizenship law by changing criteria for citizenship. "Although 'responsible citizenship' had always been part of our platform, I realized that this was a burning issue that had to take top priority," he wrote.
"Although my stance on responsible citizenship made sense to many Israelis, the intelligentsia could not, as you say in English, get their heads around it. 'Racist' and 'fascist' were the knee-jerk reactions," the Yisrael Beiteinu leader went on to say.
Lieberman explained his "responsible citizenship" platform, comparing his position, which some call racist, to the express policy of nations around the world. "In the U.S., those requesting a Green Card must take an oath that they will fulfill the rights and duties of citizenship," he wrote.
Lieberman concluded the article by saying that "as part of the next government, I look forward to working with President [Barack] Obama. I know that U.S.-Israel relations are as strong as ever, and that our shared values and interests make our friendship unshakeable."
Yisrael Beiteinu officials recently launched a public relations campaign to convince the United States, Europe and the Arab world that there is nothing to fear from Avigdor Lieberman's initiative to add an oath of allegiance to Israel's Citizenship Law.
During a meeting with U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman on Sunday, the Yisrael Beitenu chairman explained his party's ideas on the oath of allegiance to the state. The senator asked whether the initiative was only directed at Israel's Arabs, and the Israeli answered that the oath would be required of Jewish citizens as well. "We intend to take all international parameters into consideration and to draw on similar laws in other countries," Lieberman said.
Lieberman is expected to receive a ministerial portfolio in a Netanyahu government, perhaps foreign affairs, if a narrow coalition is formed.
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