Lieberman's Answer to Benny Begin: Uzi Landau

Former Likud MK and cabinet minister Uzi Landau yesterday announced he would join Yisrael Beiteinu under Avigdor Lieberman. The newcomer, whose addition constitutes an important step for the party, will occupy the second slot in its candidate list for the 18th Knesset.

In a conversation with Haaretz last week, a senior member of Yisrael Beiteinu said Benny Begin's return to Likud was a serious blow for Lieberman. Landau's recruitment can therefore be seen as his answer.

At the press conference which Lieberman called to announce the move, he said that he and Landau did not agree on every issue regarding the peace process, such as on the future of Jerusalem's eastern neighborhoods and on Lieberman's plan to swap territories with the Palestinians. However, Lieberman added, they agreed on many other issues, and that he saw Landau as "the anchor and impregnable wall" of the rightist camp.

Landau stressed that he does not regard his decision to join Lieberman as any desertion of his political background, but rather a move toward perseverance in achieving the rightist bloc's goals.

When asked about the police probes into Lieberman, which have been going on for more than a decade, Landau said he was not troubled by them, and he criticized the authorities responsible for keeping the investigation going for that long.

Lieberman indicated what could prove to be one of the pillars of his upcoming campaign when he criticized a statement by Likud chair Benjamin Netanyahu that he would form a national unity government.

"Our accumulated experience shows that even when the right wing wins an election, the left wing continues to rule," Lieberman said. "The result of this would be that Ehud Barak would receive a veto on any decision and Kadima would be granted the right to carry on being a seal of approval for the PA, even without any negotiations."