Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday night that the government had mishandled an affair in which a group of Hebron settlers moved into a house, saying it could endanger the government coalition.
“In coalition terms we’re talking about a grave mistake,” he said at a Yisrael Beiteinu party function.
Last week, a group of Hebron settlers moved into a home near the Cave of the Patriarchs in the city, saying they had bought the building legally. The army has been pressing for them to be evacuated from the house, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed Tuesday that an order to push them out had been delayed.
Lieberman’s comments come in the wake of a developing political picture in which Netanyahu will face a Kadima led by Shaul Mofaz and Labor led by Shelly Yachimovich.
Elections are scheduled for early 2013. There has been wide speculation that the prime minister would dissolve his coalition and ask Israelis to go to the polls before then.
Yisrael Beiteinu’s cooperation in future coalitions could be critical for Netanyahu should the Likud take the most votes in the next election.
Netanyahu rejected claims that he would call early elections Tuesday, at a press conference marking the fourth year of his coalition.
“I don’t intend to bring elections forward,” he said. “If someone else wants to push for elections, I’m not afraid of elections, but I don’t intend to initiate them.”