Israeli Foreign Minister breaks up Yisrael Betenu-Likud merger

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of the Yisrael Betenu informed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Monday that he is dissolving the merger between his party and Likud that was forged before the last election. He acted after a sharp dispute in the cabinet session Sunday. The Foreign Minister repeated his constant attacks on the government for its soft response to Hamas rocket fire and terrorism. The prime minister shot back by accusing him and other critics of his policy of “populism” and trying to capitalize on the current crisis for political gain.

Lieberman told a news conference Monday that his party remains a loyal member of the government coalition and hopes it will serve full term. But he can’t accept the reality of a constant rocket threat hanging over Israel and one and a half million civilians forced to spend days and nights in shelters. Violent lawbreakers must be brought to justice whether they are Jews or Arabs, he declared, stressing that this consensus is shared by all of Israel’s leaders. But his views on how to handle Hamas vary from Netanyahu’s policy.

Lieberman said it is intolerable for the Arab Israeli community to enjoy all the benefits of a democracy while its members surge into the streets brandishing Hamas and Hizballah flags and engaging in violent violations of law and order – in obedience to their leaders.

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