Liberman: Central issues for new gov't - Tal Law, Ulpana

FM's list of primary issues notably different than 4 point platform announced by Netanyahu, Mofaz; says no "war over credit" to change Tal Law, Ulpana outpost should be legalized.

Lieberman, Israel Beiteinu MKs [file]_311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Lieberman, Israel Beiteinu MKs [file]_311
(photo credit: Reuters)
The focus of the new coalition government expected to be approved Wednesday will be replacing "the Tal Law and dealing with the Ulpana" controversy, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said in a Wednesday press conference.
Liberman's list of primary issues was notably different than the four point platform announced by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Kadima party leader Shaul Mofaz in their Tuesday press conference announcing a deal by which Kadima will join the government. The foreign minister's list omitted mention of the peace process, changing the electoral system and the new budget, while adding the Ulpana controversy.
With regard to the fact that the new unity government reversed Yisrael Beytenu's push for new elections, Liberman expressed no disappointment. Rather, he emphasized that the critical issue was to pass a "serious" replacement to the Tal Law which will integrate haredim (ultra-Orthodox) into military and national service on a comprehensive scale.
Liberman said that while he was "ready for elections at any point," that October 2013 was the date that was "good for the country" and would save the state money it would have spent on an election this fall.
The foreign minister also said that his party has always put the country's best interests ahead of its own electoral interests, joining the Ehud Olmert government with which he had many policy differences, in order to strengthen the nation after the 2006 Lebanon War.
Regarding the fact that the unity deal commits the government to passing Kadima's law for replacing the Tal Law as opposed to Yisrael Beytenu's, Liberman said there would be "no war on taking credit" and all he wanted was to "fight for a serious new law."
Addressing the Ulpana controversy, Liberman said that the "residents are law abiding citizens, serve in the army, pay taxes, work, do reserve duty." The Ulpana "is not an illegal outpost. It was the state's mistake. The residents didn't make a mistake, they were sent there," he continued.
He said the solution was legislation legalizing the Ulpana and outposts in similar circumstances. Otherwise "every month there will be a new Ulpana if we set this precedent."
Liberman also made clear that despite rumors to the contrary, he would continue to support Yitzhak Aharonovich in continuing as Public Security Minister throughout the government's current term and after the next elections, whenever they may occur.
Israeli media reports indicated calls for Aharonovich to step down following his non-attendance at Tuesday's INTERPOL conference held for the first-time in Israel. Hosting the conference was viewed as a major accomplishment for the state, and Aharonovich's non-attendance was viewed by many as a significant embarrassment.
Finally, Liberman took a shot at Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid, predicting that he had a better chance "to become president of the united states" than he had of his party surviving politically in Israel for an extended period.
Liberman's criticism specifically focused on a provision of Yesh Atid's party constitution mandating that Lapid continue as its leader until the end of the 20th Knesset, which, if elections precede as scheduled, would not be for another five years.