Lieberman is 'Jewish ISIS' says Israeli Politician After Beheading Comments

Avigdor Lieberman
Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman leaves after giving a statement to the media at his Jerusalem office December 2, 2014. Ronen Zvulun/REUTERS/

An Israeli politician and academic have called for an investigation to be launched into the comments of Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman after he called for the "beheading" of Arab-Israelis who were not loyal to the state of Israel.

Arab-Israeli politician Ahmad Tibi, leader of the Arab Movement for Change (Ta'al) party, said that Lieberman is the "Jewish Islamic State" after the country's top diplomat issued his inflammatory remarks at an election rally in the western city of Herzliya on Sunday.

In a speech to Arab students at Jenin University in the West Bank city of the same name, Tibi said that the united Arab Joint List (a coalition of Arab-Israeli parties) would "remove racists' and fascists' heads only through democratic means - bringing as many [Knesset] seats as possible and active participation in the election. The stronger we are, the weaker Jewish IS will be."

"Minister Lieberman's statement about 'beheading' Israeli Arabs demands the opening of an investigation," Tibi added.

The specific comments made by the ultra-nationalist politician, which drew condemnation on social media, were: "Those who are with us deserve everything, but those who are against us deserve to have their heads chopped off with an axe."

Avraham Diskin, professor of political science at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, said that the comments amounted to incitement and were illegal because of their provocative nature, calling for criminal investigation into Lieberman's behaviour.

"It's against the law to call for violence and brutal executions in particular," says Diskin. "He should be investigated, it is a criminal offence to say that, even with freedom of speech."

"It is incitement and, had it been said earlier, I think there were grounds to disqualify him [from running in election] at least," the professor added. "Anyone who calls for such activities, the law is very clear. The criminal law and the basic law of the Knesset are very clear."

In other comments made at the election rally, Lieberman said that "there is no reason for Umm el-Fahm (an Arab-majority city) to be a part of Israel" and said those who raised a black flag on 'Nakba Day' (Day of Catastrophe) - in reference to the day following the creation of Israel in 1948 in which thousands of Palestinians were forced to flee their homes - should be sent to live in the Palestinian territories.

A number of former Israeli diplomats, including former Israeli ambassador to South Africa, Alon Liel, and former ambassador to France, Daniel Shek, publicly condemned Lieberman's incendiary remarks.

"Israel's number-one diplomat is waving an axe over the heads of citizens of the country that he represents, and in the same breath, he preaches to the whole world about fighting antisemitism," the diplomats told The Jerusalem Post.

The radical leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu party is regularly critical of Arab-Israelis, who constitute 20% of Israel's population, calling for the implementation of the death penalty for Palestinian "terrorists" in February and writing a manifesto pledge last November to offer Arab-Israelis financial incentives to relocate from the country, in order to "solve the problem of divided loyalties and 'split personality' they suffer from".

Lieberman remains the only foreign minister in the world who does not officially live in the country he represents, with a residence in an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank.

The Israeli foreign minister's spokesman and a representative from the Israeli foreign ministry were both unavailable for comment when requested.