Austria Minister: Lieberman's Presence in Israeli Cabinet 'Unbearable'

In an interview to Die Presse daily, Norbert Darabos says Israel directing attention at enemies such as Iran, Palestinians in order to avoid internal social issues.

Austrian Defense Minister Norbert Darabos has launched an unprecedented verbal assault against Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, saying in an interview due to be published on Sunday that his presence in Israel's cabinet was "unbearable."

In an interview to the Austrian daily Die Presse, Darabos severely criticized Israel's policies, with a special emphasis on continued settlement activity and the nuclear standoff with Iran.

"Iran can't build a bomb yet, and Israel's threats are unnecessary," he said, adding that he felt an attack on "Iran's nuclear facilities would spark an uncontrollable fire in the region and will create solidarity and empathy for Iran in the Arab world and the world at large."

The Austrian minister accused Israel of "pointing a finger at its foreign enemies like Iran and the Palestinians in order to avoid dealing with internal social issues," adding that, "honestly, the fact that minister Lieberman is a member of the Israeli government is unbearable."

"Israel was in a better place when there was a balance between the Labor party and conservative elements, but those times have passed as a result of a split in the left," he added.

Earlier this month, Lieberman urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet to advance High Court-bypassing legislation to sanction illegal West Bank outposts such as the Ulpana Hill neighborhood of Beit El.

Lieberman made the comment a few days after the High Court of Justice gave the government 60 days to demolish houses in the neighborhood that were illegally built on private Palestinian land.

Lieberman said that Ulpana is "not an illegal outpost. The state made a mistake. [Ulpana residents] did not make a mistake, they were sent there. The state made a mistake and it should take responsibility. I see no other way than legislation that will solve the issue."

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Avigdor Lieberman - Michal Fattal - 9.5.2012
Michal Fattal