The central committee of Yisrael Beytenu voted on Sunday to temporarily maintain
its bond with Likud at a meeting in Jerusalem.
Avigdor Liberman, the
party’s head, met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Saturday night to
discuss the future of their parties. Netanyahu asked Liberman to maintain the
bond, because of the challenges Israel is facing on the issues of Iran and the
“We established this union because of the challenges facing
the country,” Netanyahu reportedly told Liberman. “Since then, the challenges
have only increased, and with them, the need for the bond.”
although there was a clear majority among his party activists against
maintaining the bond with Likud, he personally would not mind in the future
forming a wider bloc that would include Likud and Bayit
Meanwhile, the central committee empowered the party’s smaller
secretariat to make the decision when the time is right.
The Likud is
expected to make its own decision in the next three weeks on the bond, which
resulted in the two parties falling in the January election from 42 seats
separately to 31 combined.
Netanyahu had not made his opinion on the bond
known before Sunday.
Yisrael Beytenu’s deputy mayor of the Shomron
Regional Council, Hanan Ziv, mocked Likud ministers for opposing maintaining the
Using two slogans popularized by Netanyahu, Ziv said “they are
a-f-r-a-i-d” and “if they give they will get, and if they don’t give, they won’t
For Liberman, Sunday’s party meeting was his first since he was
acquitted of corruption charges on November 6. He thanked the large crowd at the
event for their support during the lengthy investigation against him, and said
the backing he received from his activists made him realize his party was a
Liberman defended his party’s efforts in last month’s municipal
elections, saying he was proud of Moshe Lion, his party’s candidate for
Jerusalem mayor, even though he did not win. Noting deals Jerusalem Mayor Nir
Barkat made with haredi factions, he accused Barkat of dirty
“We did well against an incumbent mayor who spent more money
than any mayor in an election in history,” Liberman said.
“We proved we
were not part of a dirty political deal. The opposite: The other side
bought power with money.”