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  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. | Photo: Reuters

Published 22 May 2016

Demonstrators fear that Israel's right-wing government will take them to war after PM Netanyahu named far-right Avigdor Lieberman as defense chief.

Hundreds of Israelis protested the far-rightward turn of Israel's already right-wing government in Tel Aviv on Sunday after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu named hawkish Avigdor Lieberman as Defense Minister, RT reports.

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Protesters at the rally screamed "war minister" against the new appointment, fearing that Lieberman will use Israel's powerful military to meddle in the many Middle East conflicts that surround Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

“We think this government is a disaster for our country,” Israeli daily the Jerusalem Post quoted one of the organizers as shouting.“There is no future or vision.”

Lieberman, leader of the far-right secular-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party, has a long history of controversial statements. In a 2015 campaign speech, he said that Palestinian citizens of Israel "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."

He also lives in an illegal Jewish-only settlement in the occupied West Bank, further adding to the controversy surrounding Israel's new defense minister.

Former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon resigned Friday citing “extremist elements” in the Israeli government, referring to Netanyahu. Lieberman's appointment was made the same day.

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Tamar Zandberg, a member of the left-wing Meretz party which holds five of the 120 seats in Israel's parliament, spoke at the rally, stressing the new level of extremism in the government ranks.

“This week we reached new heights of extremism and an even more right-wing government” she told the crowd. Zandberg also described Lieberman as “corrupt” and “racist,” RT reports.

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