Liberman sets out religion and state demands for entry into govt

Yisrael Beytenu leader calls on President Reuven Rivlin to take ‘active role’ in bringing about national unity government.

September 19, 2019 01:59
2 minute read.
Liberman sets out religion and state demands for entry into govt

YISRAEL BEYTENU leader Avigdor Liberman addresses a faction meeting at the Knesset yesterday. . (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman insisted that he would not join a narrow government of the Left or Right, and committed again to the establishment of a national-unity government of Blue and White, the Likud and his own party.

“If [Blue and White leader Benny] Gantz and [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu do not come out with a declaration that this is their intention, they shouldn’t bother to call me at all,” Liberman wrote firmly on his Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon.

Liberman also decisively ruled out sitting with the Joint List, and laid out his demands on religion and state issues for entering a unity government.

“We will not concede on passing the ultra-Orthodox conscription law, in its original format,” he wrote. “We will not concede on [the demand to] repeal the mini-markets law. We will not concede on [demands for] public transportation on Shabbat. We will not concede on [demands for] civil marriage, and we will demand the inclusion of core curriculum studies in the ultra-Orthodox education system. These are our preconditions, and until we hear words in this spirit, there is nothing to talk about.”

Liberman also accused the ultra-Orthodox parties of engaging in incitement toward him, noting that senior United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni had compared him to Amalek, the ancient enemy of the Jewish people.

“We want a normal country in which the citizens will live in accordance with the principle of live and let live,” Liberman wrote on Facebook. “I don’t ask to open grocery stores on Shabbat in [the predominantly ultra-Orthodox city of] Bnei Brak, and I am not prepared for stores to be closed on Shabbat in Ashdod, period.”

The Yisrael Beytenu leader also called on President Reuven Rivlin to take an “active role” in bringing about a national unity government..

Speaking outside his home in the West Bank settlement of Nokdim early Wednesday morning, after Yisrael Beytenu appeared to have nearly doubled its Knesset representation, Liberman repeated his assertion that his party would enter a national-unity government only without sectoral parties.

“A national unity government, a broad liberal government. We will not join any other option. From our point of view no other option exists,” said Liberman, adding that Yisrael Beytenu would not sit in a government with the Joint List, an idea he describe as “absurd.”

He added that Yisrael Beytenu would not sit in a government with the Joint List of Arab parties, an idea he describe as “absurd.”
Liberman continued to insist on the importance of repealing the mini-market law, access to public transportation on Shabbat, the legalization of civil marriage, as well as the expansion of core curriculum studies in ultra-Orthodox schools.

“We will give only full governmental support to the ultra-Orthodox education system with the introduction of core curriculum studies,” Liberman said.

Shas leader Arye Deri described Liberman’s list of demands as “arrogance.”

The independence of the ultra-Orthodox education system is an extremely sensitive issue and possibly more explosive than even conscription to military service, since the ultra-Orthodox leadership sees the education system as the critical tool for transmitting a haredi identity to its youth.

Asked if he could still sit in a government with Netanyahu, bearing in mind the rancor between the two, Liberman said there is “no personal issue,” and that “we don’t rule anyone out. The key at the moment is with the president. He has to take a much more active role than in the last” election.

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