Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman announced Sunday that he had no intention of dismantling the merger between his party and the Likud. He said he expects to strengthen the alliance, which was originally formed ahead of the elections one year ago.
Liberman, who reassumed the position of foreign minister after being acquitted of criminal charges earlier this month, added that he had reached the decision after considering Israel’s tumultuous political climate, and after receiving a request on the matter by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Given the complex arena with Iran and the Palestinians, and due to the request of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, I wish not to discuss a split today,” Liberman said at a Yisrael Beytenu conference in Jerusalem Sunday. “We will give authorization for the party committee to consider such a decision in the future.”
The foreign minister stressed that the formation of a united right-wing bloc was essential to advance his party line, and added that he opposed a political system comprised of a large number of divided factions.
“I’ve always advocated for the formulation of a national camp and for reducing the number of parties, he said.
“If we are talking of unions, we should unite all the parties on the right.”
After Liberman’s acquittal, Netanyahu indicated that he was interested in strengthening the partnership between the Likud and Yisrael Beytenu.
“I congratulate you on your unanimous acquittal, and I’m glad that you’re returning to the Israeli cabinet so that we can continue to work together for the benefit of the Israeli people,” Netanyahu told Liberman at the time, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.
Next month, at a meeting of the Likud’s Central Committee, Netanyahu is expected to try and execute a move that would solidify the Likud-Yisrael Beytenu merger, which in the past had been labeled by senior officials in both parties as a temporary arrangement. The meeting was called by opponents of the merger, particularly central committee chair Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon.
The Likud-Beytenu won 31 seats in the January elections, having held a joint 42 seats in the last Knesset (Likud with 27 and Yisrael Beytenu with 15).