Even though Israeli officials recently announced that they have been waiting for the AK Party emergency convention on Sunday and the formation of the new government before finalizing the ongoing Turkish-Israeli restoration talks, the new Israeli government may jeopardize the normalization of bilateral relations. According to the Israeli media, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman, head of the hardline nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu Party, agreed on Wednesday to form a new coalition government. Reportedly, former Foreign Minister Lieberman will replace Moshe Yaalon as defense minister. Lieberman, a former nightclub bouncer, lives in a settlement that is considered illegal by Turkey and the international community.
Beside this, Lieberman is known for his harsh criticism of the Turkish-Israeli normalization process. Last year, Lieberman slammed Netanyahu, who phoned Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in March 2013 to apologize for the flotilla deaths, and stated, "It was a great mistake to apologize to Turkey." Lieberman added that as long as Turkey is ruled by the current leadership headed by President Erdoğan, there is no chance of mending ties with Israel. "Erdoğan's Turkey is a country that wishes only to attack and to goad Israel," he said, and Israel must act accordingly "and safeguard Israeli interests."
In addition to his negative remarks, the far right extremist politician is also known for racist comments against Palestinians and other Arabs. Last year, Lieberman called for "disloyal" Arabic citizens of Israel to be beheaded. "Those who are with us deserve everything. Those against us, it cannot be helped, we must lift up an axe and behead them; otherwise, we will not survive here," Lieberman said in 2015 during his election campaign speech. The possible appointment of Lieberman also raised concerns of the Palestinian Authority. On Thursday, the Palestinian foreign minister slammed Netanyahu's decision to bring Lieberman's party into the government, saying this was further proof that there is no true partner for peace in Israel. ''The decision to appoint Lieberman as defense minister has led the Palestinian people to the conclusion they have no other choice but to continue their international campaign for recognition,'' a statement from the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said.
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