Yisrael Beytenu MK Avigdor Liberman .
(photo credit: KOBI ZOLTAK)
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman rejected a request by Shas leader Arye Deri to enter Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition, Liberman revealed to his faction at the Knesset on Monday.
Deri confirmed that he had approached Liberman in an effort to broaden the coalition beyond its current 61 MKs. Likud officials said there are always attempts to expand the government.
“I told Deri I have nothing personal against Netanyahu,” Liberman said. “It is a principled dispute, and in order to join the government, our demands must be fulfilled on matters of security, immigrant absorption and religion and state.”
Liberman said there were 10 separate demands on each of the three issues, for a total of 30, and that Netanyahu could “take it or leave it.” He specified his demands on religion and state, including several that Shas and United Torah Judaism would never accept, such as drafting more yeshiva students.
“If all of [our demands] are accepted, we will be happy to enter the government,” Liberman said. “But without a dramatic change on these three issues, and without the fulfillment of our demands, we have nothing to talk about.”
The demands also include toppling Hamas in Gaza, allowing civil unions and building 2000 housing units in Ma’aleh Adumim and Ariel.
To test the government’s seriousness, Yisrael Beytenu will present a bill to the Knesset on Wednesday that would allow terrorists to be sentenced to death penalty, but he said he expected the Likud to prevent it from passing.
“This government doesn’t need Purim,” he said mockingly.
“It dresses up as a rightwing nationalist government every day.”
By contrast, Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni told her faction that the government was much too right-wing.
“To end Palestinian terrorism, we must combine a strong hand with diplomatic steps,” she said. “The government has been irresponsible because it has not chosen to add economic and diplomatic steps in the struggle against terrorism.”