Aharonovitch. Immediate resignation?
Lieberman. Waiting for clarifications
Photo: Ilan Mizrahi
If the prime minister launches talks on the core issues we will be out of this government by the end of the week, Tourism Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch (Yisrael Beiteinu) told Ynet on Tuesday evening.
Aharonovitch's remarks were made on the backdrop of the refusal of his party's leader, Minister for Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman, to announce that the faction would leave the coalition in light of the agreement reached between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to jumpstart the discussions on the core issues, including Jerusalem's status.
Lieberman announced earlier that he was waiting for a clarification talk with the prime minister on the matter.
According to Aharonovitch, a discussion of the core issues – which include Jerusalem's future status, the future of Israel's permanent borders and the return of thousands of Palestinian refugees into the Green Line territories – would lead to the withdrawal of Yisrael Beiteinu from the coalition."
Sources at the Prime Minister's Office attempted to downplay the remarks, saying that Lieberman and his faction should not quit the government.
"As far as we know," said a senior Olmert associate, "Lieberman should not withdraw from the government. He spoke about an objection to the appointment of committees which would deal with the core issues. Such committees have not been established.
"Lieberman was there when the prime minister and the Palestinian president discussed the core issues over the past months in the long talks they had," the source added.
Earlier this week, Lieberman said that "any stat of negotiation on the core issues, any attempt to evacuate settlements and outposts, obligates us to immediately withdraw from the coalition."
According to his fellow faction member, Minister Aharonovitch, "We have made it clear to the prime minister that we believe some problems come before a discussion of the core issues.
"Aren't we being struck by terror from the north and south? Have the Palestinians met their commitment to fight terror? These issues should be dealt with before any discussion on the core of conflict.
"We are going out. If the prime minister wants to take us out of the coalition, this is his chance. The moment the talks on these issues begin, we are out," he concluded.