Yisrael Beytenu No. 2 candidate Yair Shamir has apologized for criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying his words were misinterpreted.
Speaking at the Center for Academic Studies in Or Yehuda on Friday, Shamir, the son of the late former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, criticized Netanyahu's stances on negotiations with the Palestinians.
"Netanyahu zigzags a bit. At one point he wants to please his constituents, to be liked. The two-state solution is not a part of the Likud platform. The things he said at his speech at Bar-Ilan University were not approved by the Likud or the government at the time," Shamir said.
He also said, "Every public official who messed up during their tenure as a statesman needs to make way for someone who hasn't." Asked whether he was referring to his party's chairman and former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who was recently indicted in a corruption case, Shamir replied: "If he is convicted, then yes."
After his remarks made headlines, Shamir released a statement, saying, "I apologize that my words were not understood as they were intended. I respect the prime minister, and as I said he is a gifted and brilliant man and I have no doubt that the Likud-Beytenu roster led by Benjamin Netanyahu will form the next government."
Vice Prime Minister MK Moshe Ya'alon (Likud) attributed Shamir's statements to a rookie's mistake.
"I know Yair Shamir well and have a lot of respect for him,” Ya’alon said.
“He is new to politics and he will see that in politics sometimes you need to know how to navigate, and that when you do you must go by your compass and not by weather vanes. In that regard I think that the prime minister has proved that we have a compass and a direction, and that in diplomacy-security we know to stand for our nation's interest.
"We have more than a few accomplishments to pat ourselves on the back for. We need to look back four years and then say who want to lead our country. When has the security situation been so good? Look at the economy on a macro level; that's not something you can take for granted."