"Avigdor Lieberman will be Israel's next prime minister," Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said Saturday morning at a culture event in Be'er Sheva, later clarifying his statement: "He will be a future prime minister – he's the kind of leader who can lead this country."
"I don't see any elections in the near future. However if elections will be held, I am sure that Yisrael Beiteinu will grow in strength," explained Aharonovitch, a member of Foreign Minister Lieberman's party.
Just recently, Netanyahu – who ran on a joint list with Lieberman in the previous elections – said that he planned to run for prime minister in the next elections.
During the event, Aharonovitch also spoke about Operation Protective Edge and the possibility of defeating Hamas: "We gained broad legitimacy from the international community."
"Had we went inside (the Gaza Strip), we would have been able to complete the task. The criticism should not be directed to the IDF or the Chief of Staff, but rather to the diplomats, the cabinet and the government. The IDF was acting on orders it received from the political echelon," Aharonovitch said.
The Internal Security Minister was also asked about the recently announced budget cuts and the military's request for significant hike in the 2015 defense budget.
"I'm not entirely at ease with these figures," he said, referring to the addition to the defense budget, and preferred to focus on his office instead: "The more relevant question that needs to be asked has to do with internal security. Why would we need less officers and police cars on the streets? They cut two percent, NIS 66 million."
"The demands of the security establishment are excessive," Aharonovitch added. "They did the easy thing – made budget cuts everywhere except the defense budget." Aharonovitch also stated that in his view, it is best not to harm ministries that provide personal security, health and education. "The budget cuts harm the security of the citizens of Be'er Sheva and Kiryat Shomna."
Earlier this week, the security cabinet convened in Jerusalem to discuss the financial consequences of Operation Protective Edge, as the government prepared for the negotiations over the 2015 budget.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz briefed the assembled ministers on the costs of the operation, which he said stood at 9 billion shekels. Gantz and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon presented the security establishment's needs and goals for 2015, which they claimed to require a budget injection of 11 billion shekels.
The presentation spurred fierce debate between Ya'alon and Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who opposes any additional defense funding beyond the already-budgeted 52 billion shekels.