Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat speaks during a press conference after a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s executive committee on May 4, 2016 in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AFP photo)
Senior Palestinian officials have lashed out at the Israeli regime for naming hawkish politician Avigdor Lieberman as the new minister for military affairs despite his extreme rightist stance toward the Palestinians.
Palestinian chief negotiator and Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Saeb Erekat said on Wednesday that the new Israeli cabinet poses a “real threat” to regional stability.
This cabinet “brings a real threat of instability and extremism in the region,” Erekat said, adding that Lieberman’s appointment would “result in apartheid, racism and religious and political extremism.”
Meanwhile, spokesman for Gaza-based Hamas resistance movement, Sami Abu Zuhri, also strongly denounced Lieberman’s appointment and said the move shows “an increase in the racism and extremism of the Israeli occupation.”
On May 20, Hamas politburo member, Fathi Hammad, said during a protest rally in the Gaza Strip that the threats previously made by Lieberman to assassinate the movement’s political and military leaders would not affect the popular resistance group.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry also earlier censured Liberman’s appointment, saying in a Thursday statement that the decision “confirms the lack of a peace partner in Israel.”
“Whoever follows daily the procedures and violations carried out by the extremist Netanyahu administration against the Palestinian people, [sees] the racist, radical and violent nature of the politics of the cabinet since day one,” it said.
Palestinians burn pictures of Avigdor Lieberman during Nakba Day rallies in the besieged Gaza Strip, May 20, 2016. ©AFP
Haneen Zoabi, an Arab lawmaker, who currently serves as a member of the Israeli Knesset (parliament), has also denounced the decision, saying Israel is adopting characteristics of a fascist regime. She also called for an international boycott of Israel.
Lieberman, who leads Israel’s far-right Yisrael Beiteinu Party, has, accepted an offer by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to become the minister of military affairs.
Netanyahu had summoned Lieberman’s predecessor Moshe Ya’alon and reproached him over supporting an analogy between Israel and Nazi Germany.
Ya’alon then officially resigned both from the cabinet and the Knesset (parliament), citing “lack of trust” in the premier. He also said Israel and the ruling Likud Party was taken over by “dangerous and radical officials.”
With Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in a deep freeze, Lieberman’s addition to Netanyahu’s cabinet would diminish any hope for reviving the talks.
The hawkish politician is notorious for his threats to have Hamas leaders assassinated, notably saying in 2014 that murdering Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal would be the only way to deter future tunnel construction in the densely-populated Gaza, which has been under an Israeli blockade since 2007.
He has also called on Israel to treat Hamas the same way as the United States treated “the Japanese in World War II.”
Lieberman also favors the death penalty for the alleged perpetrators of anti-Israeli attacks.
Israeli opposition politician Isaac Herzog has said that, with the inclusion of Lieberman, the Israeli cabinet is now “on the brink of madness.”