Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman appears to blame Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the descent into conflict with Hamas and the way the current round of violence is playing out.
Interviewed on Channel 12, the former Netanyahu ally turned opponent says the tensions of recent weeks didn’t need to unfold this way, “so you have to ask, what is the [Israeli] strategic goal?”
Liberman then answers his own question:
“The strategic goal of this round of conflict is to improve Netanyahu’s status among the Israeli public, in order to drag us to fifth elections… So long as the mandate to form a government is with Yair Lapid, Netanyahu will try to drag out the conflict.”
There’s never been so weak an Israeli cabinet, Liberman adds, accusing Netanyahu of manipulating all the ministers.
From an Israeli security perspective, Liberman says the conflict has to end with Hamas disarming as part of an arrangement to allow economic aid into Gaza, and with the return of the bodies of 2 fallen soldiers held by Hamas. If not, all the fighting will have been for nothing, he says.
“Hamas started this conflict, Hamas for the first time created an internal front against us inside Israel, Hamas has taken control of the Palestinian street; it is wiping out Fatah,” he says.
During the interview, he also calls Netanyahu a “Hamas collaborator,” saying both the premier and the Gaza-ruling terror group have an interest in the hostilities continuing.
Topaz Luk, Netanyahu’s digital media advisor, takes to Twitter in response, calling Liberman a “disgusting and repulsive man.”