Israel’s anticipated next government has been accused of flirting with racism, with a far-right winger expected to become the new foreign minister. Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu has struck a provisional deal to form the next government with Yisrael Beiteinu – a far-right party which calls for Arabs to prove their loyalty to Israel or be kicked out. Avigdor Liebermann is a former nightclub bouncer from Moldova who is on the brink of becoming the face of Israel abroad. He has stirred criticism by his plans to give land occupied by Israeli Arabs to Jewish settlers.
Palestinians are horrified at his imminent rise to power. “Today we have an Israeli government which has a foreign minister who openly advocates in his political programme an expulsion of non-Jews from Israel, namely Christian and Muslim Palestinian Arabs who are citizens of this country. If that is not racism, then I do not know what racism is,” lamented the chief Palestinian negotiator Saab Erekat. Europe’s foreign policy tsar said the EU should reconsider its position if Israel’s new government rejected western-supported peace plans. “We will be ready to do business as usual normally, with a government in Israel that is prepared to contiue talking and working for a two-state solution. If that is not the case, the situation would be different,” warned Javier Solana. Netanyahu still says a unity government including Tzipi Livni’s Kadima party could help ease matters. But she refuses to compromise, demanding at least a share of the Prime Minister’s job before contemplating joining any coalition.