Former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, still one of the top figures in the Israeli government and still an outspoken hawk, appeared on Israeli Radio today to demand a full-scale invasion of the Gaza Strip to “conquer and thoroughly cleanse” the Palestinian enclave.
Lieberman went on to claim that Hamas was within two years of having a massive air force as well as the ability to reliably attack Tel Aviv and beyond. The comments were in the context of a handful of missile strikes, which most Israeli analysts agree were a function of an internal conflict between Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
The comments reflect the growing divide in Israel’s coalition government, with Lieberman acting as a spokesman for a far-right bloc that is willing to launch essentially any war on virtually any provocation, and more moderate figures.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid was quick to slam Lieberman, saying his threats were “irresponsible.” Irresponsible threats are an end unto themselves for many in Likud-Beiteinu’s joint list, however, and are likely to continue to fuel tensions with Lapid’s Yesh Atid faction.
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