Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said there is no coalition crisis and the
government will find a solution for settler homes declared illegal by the High
Court, following reports that he said “if settler homes are dismantled, the
government will be dismantled” in an Israel Beiteinu faction
“There are no threats, and no desire” to break up the coalition,
Lieberman said on Tuesday. “The opposite is true. This coalition is
strong. No one has any reason to dismantle it.”
FM threatens suit against AP over access report
Beiteinu is the senior partner in the current Likud-led coalition.
the party decide to leave the government, it would lead to early
However, this scenario is unlikely in the short term, because
Lieberman often emphasizes the importance of government stability.
Beiteinu faction Chairman Robert Ilatov, who attended the meeting, said that
“nothing out of the ordinary happened. We always talk about potentially
problematic topics in faction meetings.”
“All that was said is that the
government must take responsibility, because some coalition members will not
accept it if outposts are dismantled,” he explained. “The media is trying to add
fuel to the fire, when nothing really happened.”
Ilatov added that his
party would not try to pass bills that would prevent demolitions, saying that
“legislation takes a long time, and it’s the government’s job to find
Lieberman attempted to clarify his statements in an interview
with Israel Radio, saying that he called on Israel Beiteinu MKs “to behave
responsibly and with restraint” when facing the various “land mines” that may
reach the Knesset in the coming months. These “land mines” refer to topics that
the foreign minister’s party emphasizes, such as religion and the state, as well
as settlement issues.
“I told my party that I expect them to know how to
deal with the land mines responsibly, and not make them explode,” he
However, Lieberman said that “evacuating settler homes would make
some lives very difficult. Not just for Israel Beiteinu, also for some Likud
members and Habayit Hayehudi.”
Therefore, the foreign minister said,
“it’s important that a solution is found. I assume that no one wants to
embarrass other members of the coalition, so there will always be some sort of
legal solution that we can accept.
“This coalition is truly strong,” he
emphasized. “No one has any motivation to leave. If we’re careful and
responsible, we won’t reach situations where we face dilemmas that we can’t
On the topic of settlements, the foreign minister said it would
be irresponsible for the state to dismantle homes given initial authorization by
the state, but which never received final permits.
“The state, not the
citizens are responsible [for most of the settlements],” Lieberman explained.
“The state made a commitment that it then contradicted. These citizens were
given mortgages by the Housing Ministry and built their houses following a
ministerial committee decision.
“Now, the state is denying its
responsibility, and turning normal families into criminals,” he
His comments come in the midst of a battle by right-wing
politicians to avert the demolition of a number of unauthorized outposts, such
as Migron, Amona and Givat Assaf, as well as a neighborhood in the Beit El
settlement called the Ulpana.
If Lieberman carries through and pushes
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to take action to “legalize” the outposts, it
would certainly place the Netanyahu government in a bind with Washington and the
rest of the world. After successive Israeli governments – beginning with that of
Ariel Sharon – promised the US it would remove illegal outposts, a decision to
legalize them would certainly unleash a flood of criticism.
government has succeeded in keeping Washington from pressing too hard on the
issue by saying that removing the outposts now – at a time when there is no real
diplomatic process to speak of – would cause a great deal of domestic trauma in
Israel and weaken the government when nothing is happening diplomatically to
justify such a move.
Taking steps against outposts can be explained to
the public as part of a bigger diplomatic picture if there are other diplomatic
moves taking place, this argument runs – but when nothing is moving, there is no
reason to force the issue now.
Coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud)
echoed Lieberman’s confidence that the government will not take down outposts
that the court ruled were built on Palestinian land.
“Legal solutions do
exist, so that nearly 1,000 law-abiding Israelis, including IDF soldiers and
officers, will not be thrown onto the streets,” Elkin said.
Land of Israel Caucus, which Elkin leads together with MK Arye Eldad (National
Union) has put pressure on the government, which in turn requested earlier this
month that the court delay the dismantling of the Givat Assaf outpost, Elkin
“I am happy that Lieberman and Israel Beiteinu have joined the
effort to prevent these demolitions,” the coalition chairman added.
don’t think we’ll have to reach the other side of that equation,” he said, in
reference to the possibility of a coalition crisis. “This problem can be
Elkin also pointed out that “when right-wing parties break up
right-wing governments, it’s never good for the right. I don’t like these
threats.”Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.