Yisrael Beytenu chief Avigdor Liberman addresses a town hall meeting in Beersheba.
(photo credit: FACEBOOK)
Yisrael Beytenu will not enter Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s next government unless its leader, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, is allowed to keep his post or is promoted to defense minister, outgoing Yisrael Beytenu minister Uzi Landau said in a parting interview that will be published in full in Friday’s Jerusalem Post.
Landau stressed that his personal assessment was not based on conversations with Liberman or his associates. But sources close to the Yisrael Beytenu leader confirmed Landau’s statement and said Liberman expects to go to the opposition.
“If he is not offered the Foreign Ministry or something close to it, the chance of Yisrael Beytenu joining the coalition in my opinion is close to zero,” Landau said. “He has had so many jobs, he may decide not to be in the coalition this time. He won’t join the government at any price.”
Despite being shown the door, Landau praised Liberman as “a Zionist leader who combines pragmatism with ideology in the style of Ben-Gurion.” He said he voted for the party but that members of his family did not.
Likud officials said Netanyahu intends to keep the Defense and Foreign Affairs portfolios for current Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and a Likud minister, most likely Netanyahu’s No. 2 in the party, Interior Minister Gilad Erdan. But if Netanyahu forms a national unity government with Labor, the foreign minister would be its leader, Isaac Herzog.
Landau said he strongly opposes a unity government. He called upon Netanyahu to form a 67-MK nationalist coalition of Likud, Yisrael Beytenu, Bayit Yehudi, Kulanu, Shas, and United Torah Judaism.
“The public said as clearly as possible that it saw no partner that can make peace,” Landau said. “There was a democratic decision by the people. It would be delusional to put the Foreign Ministry in the hands of people who think we should concede on land.”
Asked if it could help Israel to have a dove like Herzog explaining Israel’s policies abroad, he said: “Israel’s best PR guy is the prime minister.”
Unlike Netanyahu and many other top figures on the Right, Landau, 71, is able to leave politics saying he never voted to withdraw from territory or release terrorists from prison.
He even boasted that he once flew back from Central America to vote against a prisoner release that was going to pass no matter how he voted.
“I am leaving politics at peace with myself that I stuck to the principles I received from my father and mother’s house and that I promised my voters I would maintain,” he said.
“I stood up for my principles and did not concede. I never leaked anything. I always behaved with respect to my political competitors. And I didn’t always tell all the truth, but I never lied or misled.”