Lieberman: Netanyahu Not Responsible for Attacks on Me From Inside Likud

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Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman yesterday said he would prefer partnership in a right-wing government that would handle internal and external terrorism in the same way.

Lieberman, visiting communities along the Gaza Strip border, said he wasn't accusing Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu of orchestrating Likud attacks on him, however he blasted the party for its "vague and confused" statements about its relations with Shas.

"The media, Likud, Bayit Hayehudi, National Union and even those wretches from Shas are conducting an incessant attack on us - we must be doing the right thing," he said.

"My heart goes out to Netanyahu, his problem is not us but what's happening in Likud," Lieberman said. He then lashed out at Likud for not making its position toward Shas clear.

"The two parties are sending unclear messages about agreements between them, for example whether there's a promise to give Shas control of the Interior Ministry or to return the child allowances," he said.

Until the elections Likud must explain "in Russian" exactly what ties it has with Shas, he said.

Former Likud MK and minister Uzi Landau, now No. 2 on Yisrael Beiteinu's Knesset list, said that if the party gains the number of Knesset seats predicted by the polls, "we can sew Lieberman a senior portfolio."

Landau, who served as public security minister, was asked about the problem that could be caused if Yisrael Beiteinu joins the next government while Lieberman was being investigated for alleged criminal acts.

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz has ruled that a man subjected to investigation may not serve as justice or public security minister, as these ministers are in charge of the law enforcement system. Landau said that if the need arises, Lieberman would be given "a portfolio tailor-made to his size within the constraints, as was done for Ariel Sharon in the past."

He refused to say which portfolio he himself would be interested in.

MK Stas Misezhnikov, slated for a senior post in the future cabinet, said his first tour with Lieberman after the elections would be in an Arab town or village.

Misezhnikov said that when Lieberman was appointed transport minister, his first visit was to Druze and Arab communities.

He said there was no fear of conflagration [in the Arab community] should Lieberman be appointed minister because even the Arabs understand very well that only Yisrael Beiteinu can solve their problems.

"They know we understand that the better their economic situation, the better it would be for all of us in Israel," he said.

"No other Finance Committee chairman ever did more for the Arab community than I did," he said.

Eshkol Regional Council head Haim Yellin said the residents had differences of opinion about hosting Lieberman because of his beliefs, but finally decided to act with tolerance.

In addition, Misezhnikov helped the region considerably as Finance Committee chairman, he said.

Lieberman said he was committed to helping the region after the elections regardless of political opinions. "Immigration, defending the homeland and settlement are three prominent components in the party's platform, which I formulated in talks with Rehavam Ze'evi [Moledet's leader who was assassinated in October 2001]."

"The nation's integrity precedes the land's, and your fortitude here is an important part of the national fortitude," he told his hosts.