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Call to suspend peace talks after Lieberman is reinstated

Arab MK Jamal Zahalqeh has called upon the Palestinian Authority to "immediately" stop peace talks with Israel in the wake of the Knesset's overwhelming vote on Monday to return Avigdor Lieberman to head the Foreign Ministry.

Zahalqeh, who is the leader of the Arab Tajamo Bloc in the Knesset, explained that: "Reassigning this extremist figure represents the real view of the Israeli government. It is unreasonable to talk about peace with Lieberman or any of his likes."

According to Zahalqeh, criminal charges against Lieberman constitute the least serious complaint against him: "He spread hate and practiced racial violence against Arabs. He came by fascist and poisoned winds and calls for the transfer of Arabs."

Zahalqeh also pointed out that when Lieberman was a university student, he was a member of the extremist right wing student group known as "Castel", led by extremist Tzahi Hanagbi.

Speaking in front the plenary session, Arab MK Basel Ghattas also criticised the reassignment: "Voting for this man reveals the rightist agenda for this current Israeli government."

He added that: "This shows how the government uses Minister Tzipi Livni as a fig leaf to cover its racist agenda. Lieberman represents the political agenda for Netanyahu and his government."

Lieberman resigned as foreign minister of the previous Israeli government after corruption charges were filed against him. However after he was acquitted of all charges earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that he would pave the way ahead for Lieberman to rejoin his cabinet.

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