On 13 May 2009, Quilliam issued the following press release:
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office is today hosting Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister who is also the founder and leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu, a hardline nationalist and extreme Zionist political party in Israel. In view of Lieberman’s previous openly racist and violence-inciting statements, as well as his alleged involvement in a terrorist group banned in the US and Israel, this decision to host Lieberman is inconsistent with recent Home Office decisions to exclude other individuals on the specific grounds that they “promote hatred, terrorist activities and serious violence” and “advocate hatred and violence in support of their religious beliefs”.
Recommends murder of Palestinian prisoners
In 2003, Lieberman, then Israel’s transport minister, opposed Ariel Sharon’s plans to release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, saying “It would be better to drown these prisoners in the Dead Sea if possible, since that’s the lowest point in the world.”
Calls for attacks on civilian targets
In 2002, Lieberman reportedly called for military attacks on Palestinian civilian targets, telling a cabinet meeting: “At 8am we’ll bomb all the commercial centres … at noon we’ll bomb their gas stations … at two we’ll bomb their banks” In 1998, Lieberman said that, if war broke out with Egypt, Israel should bomb Egypt’s Aswan dam which provides essential water and electricity to millions of Egyptians. Both of these attacks would have been illegal under international law.
Calls for trial and execution of Arab-Israeli MPs
In 2006, Lieberman called for Arab members of the Israeli parliament to be put on trial for treason and – if found guilty – executed for meeting with members of Hamas. He said: ”World War II ended with the Nuremberg trials. The heads of the Nazi regime, along with their collaborators, were executed. I hope this will be the fate of the collaborators in this house.”
Calls for forcible transfer of Arab-Israeli citizens
In 2004, Lieberman said: “If we want to stop the conflict, we must separate the two peoples. The main problem is the Israeli Arabs. I think separation has to include them. I am talking about a land swap as well as a population swap. This seems brutal and sounds brutal, but there is no other solution.” Such a transfer, carried out against the will of those transferred, would be a breach of international law.
Allegations of membership of extreme party
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has also reported that Lieberman was formerly a member of Kach, an Israeli far-right party that is banned in Israel and the US under anti-terrorism laws. The newspaper reported that Yossi Dayan, the former secretary of Kach, had said that he was willing to testify against Lieberman were he to deny the claims.
The FCO’s decision to host Avigdor Lieberman in London illustrates that the government’s policy of excluding extremists from the UK is inconsistent. Lieberman clearly holds views that are no less extreme than those of many other racists and bigots who have been banned from the UK. The government’s apparent double-standards on such key issues can bolster extremist and Islamist narratives that seek to portray Western governments as biased and unjust.