Despite resigning his post because of legal troubles, former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman reportedly believes the position is not up for coalition bargaining and should remain in his hands.
Liberman, the head of the Yisrael Beytenu party, which created a joint Knesset list with the Likud, has been promised he can return to the top diplomatic position pending the outcome of the charges against him, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Tuesday, citing sources close to Liberman.
Liberman resigned as foreign minister in December, after the attorney general announced that he would be indicted on breach of trust and fraud charges for having received classified Justice Ministry documents.
If convicted, Liberman, who is still an MK, could be banned from holding public office (including that of foreign minister) and would have to resign from the Knesset.
However, sources close to Liberman told Ynet News Monday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was holding the position for Liberman and didn’t intend to give it to one of the potential coalition partners in the next government.
Netanyahu himself reportedly plans to continue to act as foreign minister, or appoint a temporary replacement from among the Yisrael Beytenu list, until Liberman’s legal issues are resolved.
Several news outlets reported in the past that Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid was offered the Foreign Ministry top spot if he joined the coalition. Liberman was also quoted as saying that the position was not registered under his name, indicating he had resigned himself to possibly losing the office.
Netanyahu’s Likud and the Yisrael Beytenu party ran on a joint ticket for the January 22 national elections, winning a relatively disappointing 31 seats. Part of their unity agreement was that Liberman would continue as foreign minister, Yedioth reported. The agreement has never been made public.
At the time of his resignation, Liberman insisted he had “done nothing wrong” and expressed confidence that he would be cleared of all charges. As of yet, no date has been set for a trial.