Israel’s top diplomat? Top 11 undiplomatic things Avigdor Lieberman really said

Some might say the job of a country’s foreign minister is to be its chief diplomat. But Israel’s outgoing foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, is about as undiplomatic and polarizing as it comes.

He announced Monday that he was quitting his post and that his right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party would not be joining the coalition.

Here are 11 things Lieberman has said – both before and during his terms as foreign minister from 2009-2012 and from November 2013-now – that are, well, not exactly the most tactful remarks you’ve ever heard:


Lieberman proposes bombing Egypt’s Aswan Dam if Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak puts forces in Sinai.

May 2006

Lieberman lashes out at Israeli Arab political parties, saying Arab Knesset members who meet with Hamas leaders "are cooperating with the enemy."

"World War II ended with the Nuremberg trials and the execution of the Nazi leadership. Not only them, but also those who collaborated with them. I hope that will also be the fate of the collaborators in this house."

October 2008

Lieberman says Mubarak can "go to hell."

"Time and time again our leaders go to Egypt to meet Mubarak, and he has never made a single official visit," says Lieberman. "Every self-respecting leader would have conditioned such meetings on reciprocation. If he wants to talks to us, he should come here, and if he doesn’t want to come, he can go to hell."

January 2009

Lieberman supports a proposal to disqualify the Israeli Arab political party Balad from the election for the 18th Knesset.

"The goals of Hamas and Balad are the same: to destroy Israel," says Lieberman. "The difference between them is that Hamas is outside of Israel, in Gaza, whereas Balad is not only within Israel, but sits in its parliament."

December 2012

Lieberman compares the European Union’s policy toward Israel on the Palestinian issue to European countries’ treatment of the Jews during the Holocaust era.

“I can tell you what I am not satisfied with,” says Lieberman. “I am not satisfied with the position of Europe, which once again in history is ignoring calls to destroy the state of Israel. … Europe is keeping silent. The call yesterday, what we saw, is not a condemnation of Hamas statements but rather a call to the heads of Hamas to refrain from incitement. We have already been through this with Europe at the end of the 1930s and in the 1940s.”

December 2012

Lieberman says Israeli soldiers should have killed the Palestinian police officer in Hebron who punched one of them.

“It is untenable to have a situation in which that soldier in Hebron gets punched by a Palestinian policemen and the Palestinian policeman remains alive after that," says Lieberman. "This is unacceptable to me. It cannot be that Israeli soldiers take slaps or punches from Palestinian policeman and they remain alive. … To anyone who has seen the videos it was clear that the soldiers’ lives were in danger.”

July 2014

Lieberman says the Israeli Arabs who rioted in the north of the country do not belong in Israel, calling them "those who enjoy Israeli citizenship and act as terrorists."

The rioters "do not belong in the state of Israel – and until that is resolved, their place is in jail," he writes in a Facebook post.

November 2014

Lieberman proposes paying Israeli Arabs to move to a Palestinian state.

"As for Israeli Arabs, any agreement must include a plan for territorial and population exchange," Lieberman writes in his party platform. "An arrangement of this kind with the Palestinian state will allow Israeli Arabs who do not identify with the State of Israel to become part of the Palestinian state. This will, first of all, resolve the problem of Arabs in the Wadi Ara triangle, adjacent to the Palestinian territories, who will be able to become citizens of the Palestinian state without leaving their homes."

Arabs "who feel that they are part of the Palestinian people" and live in other parts of the country, like Jaffa and Acre, are also welcome "to resolve this issue of duality and divided loyalties from which they are suffering," the platform says. "Israel should even encourage them with economic incentives."

January 2015

Lieberman calls Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan an anti-Semitic bully.

"Civilized, politically correct Europe’s silence over an anti-Semitic, neighborhood bully like Erdogan and his gang takes us back to the 1930s," says Lieberman.

February 2015

Lieberman says Israel’s 2013 apology to Turkey over the deaths of nine Turkish citizens during the 2010 Israel Navy raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla was a big mistake.

Turkey’s decision to pull out of a security conference in Munich because an Israeli minister was due to attend "proves once again what a great mistake it was to apologize to Turkey," says Lieberman. "Erdogan’s Turkey is a country that wishes only to attack and to goad Israel."

March 2015

Lieberman says Israeli Arabs who are disloyal to the State of Israel should have their heads chopped off.

"Whoever’s with us should get everything," says Lieberman. "Whoever’s against us, there’s nothing to be done – we need to pick up an ax and cut off his head. Otherwise we won’t survive here."


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