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Hardline Nationalist Sworn In as Israeli Defense Minister

  • VOA News

FILE - Israel's head of Yisrael Beitenu party Avigdor Lieberman, Feb. 23, 2015.

FILE - Israel's head of Yisrael Beitenu party Avigdor Lieberman, Feb. 23, 2015.

Far-right nationalist politician Avigdor Lieberman was sworn in Monday as Israel's new defense minister, as a number of other Israeli politicians said the government is becoming too extremist.

Lieberman is a member of Israel's ultra-right Yisrael Beitneu party, which is now part of the coalition government. He has served in several senior posts, including as foreign minister.

He has called for bombing Palestinian targets and tried to legally prevent Arab parties from running for national elections. But Lieberman, who is known for his tough anti-Arab rhetoric, said he agrees with the need for a two-state solution in the Middle East.

He said Monday that he agrees with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has said he is committed to peace with all of Israel's neighbors, including the Palestinians.

Netanyahu said Israel is willing to renegotiate the Arab states' peace initiative so that it reflects what Netanyahu said are the changes in the region since 2002.

Despite what appears to be words of moderation from a right-wing government, a Palestinian spokesman said adding the ultra-nationalist Lieberman is "mixing extremism with craziness."

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