The Knesset House Committee voted unanimously on Wednesday to finalize the break-up of the Likud Beytenu faction, ending the political partnership between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman.
Netanyahu and Liberman announced their alliance with great fanfare on October 25, 2012, leading to their two parties running together in the general election three months later. But Likud Beytenu won a disappointing 31 seats, and Liberman told Netanyahu on Monday that the two factions would be splitting up.
Following the political divorce, Likud will remain with 20 Knesset seats and Yisrael Beytenu with 11. Liberman is expected to appoint Likud MK Carmel Shama- Hacohen as ambassador to the OECD in Paris in two weeks. Former Yisrael Beytenu MK Alex Miller will enter in his place, leaving the Likud with only 19 seats, the same as Yesh Atid.
The House Committee decided that the Likud and Yisrael Beytenu lawmakers would keep their places on Knesset committees despite the break-up. Coalition partners Yesh Atid or Bayit Yehudi may still decide to demand political posts in place of Yisrael Beytenu MKs, but they did not do so yet, in part because of the security situation.
United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni asked that the Likud and Yisrael Beytenu tell the committee the reasons for the break-up. But Likud faction chairman Yariv Levin said this was unnecessary, because Liberman held a lengthy press conference on Monday.
“It is no secret that there had been disagreements with the prime minister that do not allow continuing the framework of Likud Beytenu,” Liberman said at the press conference.
“The connection didn’t work during the election or after it. There was no point in hiding it anymore.”
Liberman stressed that the move was not intended to harm Netanyahu or bring about an early election. He said the newly independent Yisrael Beytenu faction would not take any disciplinary steps against the coalition, such as MKs absenting themselves from no-confidence motions.
“The coalition will continue because there’s no better alternative and because the next election won’t change the makeup of the Knesset and its blocs,” Liberman said.
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