Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman attacked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset yesterday, warning that he is "leading the State of Israel to a Third Temple destruction."
The destruction of the Temple is a term that refers to two historical events in Jewish history in which the Temple was destroyed. The first Temple (Solomon's Temple) was destroyed in 586 BC by the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, while the second Temple (Herod's Temple) was destroyed by the Romans in the year 70 AD.
According to Jewish sources, after the destruction of the First Temple, the Jews were exiled to Babylon and after the destruction of the Second Temple, the work of the priests ceased, and the Jews were dispersed.
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Lieberman added: "The government has existed for two months, and the US has not yet invited the prime minister or foreign minister to visit Washington. This is a political failure, and I do not remember this happening before."
The statements by Lieberman, who previously held several ministerial positions, including minister of defence and finance, were made amid a sharp division in Israel over a government plan that Netanyahu and the ruling coalition under his leadership are seeking to implement and that will greatly limit the power of the judiciary in favour of the executive and legislative branches.
On Saturday evening more than 250,000 Israelis demonstrated in Tel Aviv and various parts of the country to protest the plan currently put before the Knesset for a vote. The plan includes restricting the authority of the Supreme Court, including its right to exercise its oversight role on government decisions, in addition to the latter's control over the Judicial Selection Committee.
The opposition describes the plan as a "judicial coup" that destroys democracy in Israel, while Netanyahu says it aims to restore balance between powers.