Lieberman. Coalition till 2013
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Lieberman says won't quit coalition

As tensions with Prime Minister Netanyahu intensify, foreign minister holds press conference in Knesset, criticizes government over cutbacks in budgets of ministries headed by Yisrael Beiteinu ministers. 'There is a serious dispute,' he says

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Monday morning that his Yisrael Beiteinu faction was in a "serious dispute" with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two leaders were expected to meet later in the day.


Speaking at a press conference in the Knesset at the start of an Yisrael Beiteinu faction meeting, Lieberman addressed the state budget, which his ministers voted against on Friday.


The foreign minister referred to the budget meeting as a "planned political ambush." He reiterated that his party had no plans to quit the coalition, but stressed that "we have no intention to give up."


He told the reporters of his recent conversations with the prime minister. "I spoke to him on Saturday evening and I also spoke to him yesterday. I think I don't understand this whole Treasury's insistence." He said his party would do anything to have the current coalition continue until 2013.

Lieberman. 'Planned political ambush' (Photo: Gil Yohanan)


The foreign minister added that Yisrael Beiteinu was the first party to sign a coalition agreement with the Likud and that his party was the only one to vote against the minimum wage law.


"How is it that we were the first to form a coalition, the only ones to oppose the minimum wage law, and the last ones when it comes to the budget?" he complained. "We expected them to try to reach a compromise with us on the budget."


'Surprised by negative approach'

Elaborating on the conversion bill, Lieberman said he was "very surprised by this negative approach and this immediate change in many people's stand, including the four parties – Meretz, Likud, Kadima and Labor.


"Suddenly all of them, as one, preach security. So there is no doubt Kadima always supports such laws, only when it's in the opposition and knows there is no chance they will pass. And when there is a chance for such laws to pass, Kadima will always come up with a reason not to support them."


Moving on to political issues, Lieberman said his "second disengagement" plan received support during his meeting with foreign ministers in Kazakhstan several days ago. He said the construction freeze in the settlements would not be extended, and that he had updated the prime minister on his decision to appoint Meiron Reuven as the acting Israeli ambassador to the United Nations.


Sources close to the prime minister said Monday's meeting between Lieberman and Netanyahu would aim to clarify the disputed issues. "Netanyahu believes that most of the disagreements can be solved through a dialogue," one of the sources said, adding that "Yisrael Beiteinu is a key and important partner in the government."


The crisis in the political echelon began after Lieberman was not informed of Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer's meeting with the Turkish foreign minister. Later on, Yisrael Beiteinu worked to promote the conversion bill, which is aimed at providing the Chief Rabbinate with exclusive authority, and on Sunday – following heavy pressure from US Jewish groups, the prime minister declared the bill would not pass.


Lieberman appointed Meiron Reuven as the acting Israeli ambassador to the UN of his own accord, and presented a plan for a "second disengagement" from the Gaza Strip. On Friday, Yisrael Beiteinu ministers were left out of the government's budget discussions and their ministries did not receive any increments.


On Sunday afternoon, Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni at his office in Tel Aviv. One of the issues on the agenda was the sensitive political situation.


Roni Sofer contributed to this report



פרסום ראשון: 07.19.10, 11:02
 new comment
This will delete your current comment