State Attorney's office rejects request for criminal investigation into Lieberman's "ax" comment

State Attorney's Office responds to Adalah: It is difficult to understand Lieberman's statement - "as to those who are against us…we must raise the ax and cut off his head" - as a call to violence!

"Lieberman's remarks …. refer to all citizens in the state, and not only to Arab citizens. It is difficult to understand these statements as an actual, concrete call to commit acts of violence."  Thus, the State Attorney's Office decided to reject Adalah’s request to open a criminal investigation against former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman for incitement to violence based on remarks that he made in the run-up to the Israeli elections.  In his response received by Adalah on 25 May 2015, the state prosecutor emphasized that, "the former minister wanted to call to fight against those who are disloyal to the state.” According to the prosecutor, the former minister meant that the Israeli authorities should fight [against this phenomenon] and not individuals, and not necessarily by the use of violence.


This exchange came in response to a request by Adalah to the Attorney General to open a criminal investigation against Avigdor Lieberman on charges of incitement to violence, concerning his speech at the Academic Center in Herzliya on 8 March 2015.  At that event, Lieberman stated: “Those who support us should get everything – up to half the kingdom.  As to those who are against us, there is no other option before us – we must raise the axe and cut off their heads; otherwise we will not survive here.” He added that, “as far as I’m concerned, citizens of the State of Israel who raise a black flag on Nakba Day can get out of here, and I am ready to bequeath them to Abu Mazen with great pleasure.”


Adalah Attorney Nadeem Shehadeh who submitted the request for a criminal investigation in March 2015 stated in reply to the State Attorney's Office response, "The public prosecution's allegations have no logic. They claim that Lieberman's speech does not target Arab citizens, despite the fact that his statement came in response to an intervention by an Arab student, and that in the same statement, he also remarked that anyone who commemorates the Nakba, can get out of here and go to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas." Attorney Shehadeh also commented that the prosecutor's position regarding Lieberman's call to "behead" "those who are against us" is difficult to understand, as it clearly calls for violence. It is a reprehensible attitude."


Adalah Attorney Shehadeh further emphasized that, "The Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General's Office employ double standards beyond the limits. In addition to the weak justifications relied upon by the prosecutor in deciding not to open an investigation, he also included the argument of former Minister Lieberman's parliamentary immunity. The same prosecutor filed indictments against Arab Members of Knesset because of their political statements without their immunity being taken into account."


Adalah also stressed that: "Lieberman's statements constitute incitement to violence against all Arab citizens. [His speech] promotes racism within Israeli society, and legitimizes racism against Arab citizens. There is no accountability or punishment for this behavior."