Turkey calls for Israeli minister to be sacked
By Catrina Stewart in Jerusalem
14 January 2011
Turkey's Prime Minister has urged Israel to sack its controversial foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, arguing that he is an obstacle to peace in the region.
His undiplomatic comments appeared to reflect Ankara's deep resentment at a series of verbal barbs directed at Turkey by the ultra-nationalist politician in recent weeks. Earlier this month, Mr Lieberman likened Turkey to a country on the brink of an Islamic-style revolution that overthrew the Shah in Iran in 1979, and said that the two countries' anti-Israel "vitriol" was almost identical.
Within Israel, Mr Lieberman remains a highly divisive figure, reviled by the left and feted by the right. A former nightclub bouncer from Moldova, he has an assault charge to his name, and once said Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak could "go to hell". He has also advocated dumping Palestinian prisoners into the sea.
But he struck a deep chord with many when he expressed skepticism over the likelihood of success in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Moreover, his questioning of the loyalty of Israel's Arab citizens, the Palestinians who accepted citizenship in 1948, has also echoed the fears of many right-wing voters.
So far, Mr Netanyahu has tolerated Mr Lieberman, whose Yisrael Beitenu party [Israel-is-our-home party] is a critical partner in his fragmented coalition.