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(photo credit: Ancho Gosh/JINI)
Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman predicted that Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu would complete a rare full term in office, and Shas Chairman Eli
Yishai said the same coalition should be formed after the next election, at a
festive weekend for 40 MKs and their spouses that Netanyahu hosted in
RELATED:Netanyahu plans Shabbat Safed parley to improve coalition
Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, initiated the event at the northern city’s
Ruth Rimonim Hotel in an effort to boost spirits in the
Participants reported a lively atmosphere and bonding among
ministers and MKs with varied backgrounds.
Lieberman said the current
coalition was the strongest since that of prime minister Golda Meir in the
1970s. When he said the coalition’s future strength depended on all its promises
being fulfilled, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said that for that to
happen “manna” would have to fall from heaven. Netanyahu replied that Israel
needed money, not manna.
The prime minister, who is a Levite, was given
the second aliya at the afternoon mincha prayer service at the
Ministers and MKs toured Safed on Saturday
Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak (Independence) were
not allowed to come for security reasons, but Sara Netanyahu did attend, and the
sextant at the Ari synagogue compared the criticism she endures to that faced by
Tzipora, the wife of Moses.
During the tour, a small group of activists
shouted at the MKs that they should support a deal to bring kidnapped IDF
soldier Gilad Schalit home from Gaza. But participants said the people of Safed
received them well, and even applauded them from the rooftops.
lawmakers dined on gefilte fish, Moroccan fish, beef in filo pastry and cornish
hen, and drank wine from the Golan Heights Winery.
Comedian Kobi Arieli
provided entertainment and MK Nisim Ze’ev (Shas) served as cantor and led
Shabbat songs. Agriculture Minister Orit Noked (Independence) stole the show
with a rendition of the song “Eli, Eli” sung with men accompanying her, so
haredi MKs wouldn’t have to leave.
Lieberman recalled that when Netanyahu
appointed him director-general of the Likud in 1993, they reopened a branch of
the party in Safed. He said he was pleased to learn later that the house that
hosted the branch was where Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was
The event was intended for MKs and their spouses, while children
were not allowed, withthe exception of babies under one year old.
Israel Beiteinu MK Anastasia
Michaeli attended with her husband after finding babysitters for their eight
children. Deputy Negev and Galilee Development Minister Ayoub Kara (Likud) and
his wife left their six children with her mother and made a point of attending
Shabbat services, even though he is Druse.
MKs Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) and
Robert Ilatov (Israel Beiteinu) brought their babies.
Protection Minister Gilad Erdan and MKs Miri Regev and Yariv Levin, all from the
Likud, chose to remain home with their kids.
Yossi Peled (Likud), who is angry at Netanyahu for not appointing him chairman
of Israel Bonds, was noticeably absent, as was renegade Shas MK Haim
Netanyahu’s rival in the Likud, Vice Premier Silvan Shalom, did
not come because his longtime political adviser died abruptly on
The prime minister will leave Safed on Sunday straight for
Ben-Gurion Airport, where he will fly along with nine ministers to Rome for an
annual joint meeting with the Italian government, and talks with Prime Minister
A government spokesman said these meetings – which
Israel now also holds annually with the governments of Poland and Germany – are
an effective way to expand bilateral relations, as the various ministers meet
with their counterparts and are able to effectively push through bilateral
Netanyahu will meet separately during the visit with
Berlusconi, one of Israel’s best friends in Europe. Berlusconi has already
stated that Italy opposes the PA seeking statehood recognition at the UN in
In addition to this issue, the two men are expected to discuss
regional developments, such as the situation in Syria and Italy’s military
involvement in Libya.
Netanyahu and his ministers are scheduled to return
early Tuesday morning.Herb Keinon contributed to this report.