Foreign Minister and Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman on
Friday described the future of Israeli politics and public life he hopes
to help create just hours after he and Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu (Likud) announced a merger of their two parties.
consolidation of the two parties, he explained, is a move toward
changing the system of government in Israel and making it more stable by
reducing the number of parties in the Knesset.
Israel's political geography will never resemble the two-party dominated
political system of the United States, Liberman said Israel must move
toward a future in which there are only four or five parties in the
He said he would like to get rid of "slivers of parties that make demands" on larger factions.
questions about the makeup of the still-fresh political rearrangement,
Liberman clarified that the new party would be composed of "two factions
on one list," describing it as a natural union.
"It is important that we build a wide, national camp," which traditionally, has led Israel for many years, Liberman said.
also addressed the influence of religion on public life in Israel,
saying it is one of his priorities to separate the two. He clarified
however, that he is not advocating the separation of Judaism and the
State of Israel, as it is a Jewish state.
The current role of Judaism in the state, he said, "is a desecration of God's name, not religion."
home his point, the Yisrael Beytenu leader recited what he described as
a Russian saying: "The closer you get to church, the further you get
One of his priorities, he described, is to mandate
military and national service for all Israeli citizens, Jewish, Muslim
and Christian, admitting there are differences between himself and the
prime minister on the issue.
Yisrael Beytenu, he recalled, was
the only faction in the previous Knesset, all of whose members voted for
full service for all Israelis.
Noting those differences, the
foreign minister said he and those coming from Yisrael Beytenu will
clearly have to make compromises in the new political arrangement. He
also clarified that a prime ministerial rotation was never discussed.
on bringing the two parties together, he explained for the first time,
began a year ago and was agreed upon two months ago. The final details
were worked out just days before the announcement.
Early poll shows a loss for Likud-Yisrael Beytenu
early Internet-based flash poll conducted by Panels Politics Thursday
night predicted the newly combined party would win only 33 mandates in
the upcoming elections, a loss of nine seats from the two parties'
current positions in the Knesset.
In the current Knesset, Likud and Yisrael Beytenu hold a combined 42 seats.
The timing and nature of the poll is significant in measuring early attitudes toward the political maneuver.
to the flash poll, the results of which are the first to be released
since the party merger was announced, Center-Left parties Labor and Yesh
Atid would pose an electoral threat to the new mega-party with a
combined 45 mandates.
The poll predicted 27 mandates going to
the Shelly Yacimovich-led Labor Party, and 18 seats for Yair Lapid's Yesh
Atid party. Both Shaul Mofaz's Kadima and Ehud Barak's Independence
parties disappeared off the political map in the flash poll.
Internet-based flash poll, conducted immediately following the
Netanyahu-Liberman announcement Thursday night, polled 305 respondents
representing Jewish Israelis over the age of 18.
According to the
initial preliminary poll, Left and Right blocs in the Knesset would be
evenly split with 60 votes each. The Arab and Communist parties, who
currently hold 15 seats, were included in the Center-Left bloc.