Stories have abounded in recent days that Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to find a way to appease in-party rival Silvan Shalom, but Yisrael Beiteinu members are emphasizing it will not be at their expense.
Following rumors that Netanyahu is thinking of bringing control of the Foreign Ministry back to the Likud in the event that investigations against Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman force the latter to abdicate the post, Lieberman associates stressed on Tuesday that he intends to serve a full tenure.
"Anyone counting on the fact that Lieberman will be dismissed from the post following an investigation needs to take into account that (an investigation) would take at least 13 years," said a party spokeswoman who noted that investigations against the chairman had begun as early as 1996.
Lieberman is suspected of receiving funds illegally from business tycoon Martin Schlaf. The Yisrael Beiteinu chairman was suspected of receiving money transferred to him via fictitious accounts registered in Cyprus.
Yisrael Beiteinu officials said that an assumption that the FM post would soon be up for grabs "severely hurts the chances of a Netanyahu-led government to function properly, even before it is established."
"At any rate, if the foreign ministry post returns to the Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu will return to the opposition," they added.
Netanyahu was scheduled to meet with Shalom mere hours before the new government's swearing-in ceremony in order to reach an agreement about his placement in it. The recent appointment of MK Yuval Steinitz as Finance Minister reduces Shalom's options to snag a top spot in the government.