Avigdor Liberman switches seats in Israeli parliament to avoid contact with Arab lawmaker


(JTA) — Israeli lawmaker Avigdor Liberman received permission to change his Knesset seat with another member of his party so he would not have to sit next to an Arab-Israeli lawmaker.

Liberman, head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, stepped down last week as defense minister and moved his party into the opposition, requiring them to move their bloc of seats in the Knesset plenum.

He found himself sitting next to the head of the Arab Joint List, Ayman Odeh, who Liberman has called a terrorist and said that he and his party “belong in prison rather than the Knesset.” Liberman swapped seats with former immigration and absorption minister Sofa Landver on Wednesday.

Odeh responded in a tweet Wednesday.

“The other day, he was defense minister and today he’s playing musical chairs because he can’t sit next to an Arab,” he said of Liberman.

On Monday, Odeh had tweeted a selfie of himself and Liberman sitting next to each other in the plenum looking pretty grim. Odeh wrote: “I am considering resigning from the opposition.”

On Wednesday at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference, Liberman said of the switch: “I think that today I have a better neighbor. It’s something new for me to come to the Knesset to vote, to take part in discussions, but it’s also a nice experience, and it’s good not to see Ayman Odeh on my left.”

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