Yisrael Beytenu party chief Avigdor Liberman threatened to take his party to the opposition Monday, citing significant gaps with the Likud party in coalition talks, mainly on security-related issues.
Liberman declared that he would hold no further negotiations, telling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he could accept his demands or risk sending Israelis back to the polls.
“I don’t intend to meet with anyone anymore. They know the demands. If they want we will be [in the coalition], if they don’t want we will go to the opposition,” he said.
Netanyahu needs Yisrael Beytenu’s five seats to form a governing coalition. Without them, his other potential partners will only give him 60 seats out of the Knesset’s 120.
Liberman said the party had five core demands that must be all be met: “It’s all or nothing,” he said.
- Defeating Hamas in Gaza rather than seeking arrangements with it
- Chairmanship of the Knesset’s Internal Affairs Committee
- No changes to the bill regulating the draft of ultra-Orthodox men
- An end to the Chief Rabbinate’s practice of demanding DNA tests from Russian-speaking immigrants to prove their Jewishness
- Pension reforms
Liberman noted that Netanyahu’s Likud party had already acceded to his demand to pass a law within six months enabling the death penalty for terror convicts. It had also agreed to give his party the defense and immigrant absorption portfolios.
But he said he would not agree to be defense minister if Netanyahu overrode his plan to dismantle the West Bank Bedouin hamlet of Khan al-Ahmar, which European countries have warned Israel not to destroy.
And he stressed that differences remained on matters of security policy regarding the Gaza Strip.
Liberman resigned his position as defense minister in November of last year over Netanyahu’s decision to pursue a ceasefire in the Strip after a round of cross-border violence.
He was similarly critical of the most recent truce this month after hundreds of rockets were fired at Israel, saying he would be a partner to “defeating” Hamas, not to “reaching agreements” with it.
Hamas’s “building of strength is something we cannot accept,” he said.
Regarding his dispute with ultra-Orthodox parties over a law regulating the drafting of ultra-Orthodox seminary students to the army, Liberman repeated his stance that he would not agree to any change in the current bill, which has passed its first reading in the Knesset.
Ultra-Orthodox parties have said they won’t join the coalition if the bill isn’t changed.
The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.
We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.
Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.