PM: I'm saving the Foreign Ministry for Liberman

Netanyahu stakes claim on Housing Ministry for Likud, hopes former FM will "prove his innocence quickly."

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman - Our word is our Bond 390 (photo credit: Flash 90)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman - Our word is our Bond 390
(photo credit: Flash 90)
Former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman will return to his job if he is exonerated, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Friday.
“Every person has the right to prove his innocence, and Avigdor Liberman also has this opportunity,” Netanyahu said in reference to the Yisrael Beytenu leader’s legal troubles.
“I hope and believe he will do so quickly.”
The prime minister gave interviews to television Channels 1, 2 and 10 on Friday, his first since an election was declared two months ago.
“Liberman will finish this process. He did the right thing in resigning, because he wanted to expedite the dealings with this issue so he can return to a senior position,” Netanyahu explained.
When asked if a “senior position” includes the Defense portfolio, Netanyahu said Liberman specifically asked to be foreign minister again.
“The foreign ministry is in my hands at the moment, and I hope that he will return to the government quickly,” he added.
Netanyahu did not directly address whether he plans to appoint Defense Minister Ehud Barak to his position again, even though Barak is not running in the January 22 election.
“I’m not giving out jobs,” he said.
However, the prime minister emphasized that the Likud will take the Construction and Housing Ministry.
“I plan to do to housing prices what we did to cell prices,” Netanyahu said, referring to reforms by Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon.
“To do that, we need this ministry in our hands, the Israel Land Authority in our hands, meaning in the government and under my leadership.”
Although Shas co-leader Ariel Attias is currently Housing Minister, Netanyahu did not commit to leaving the Sephardic haredi party outside of the coalition, saying that he is not discounting any parties.
Netanyahu also explained his refusal to participate in election debates.
“I think the public can judge me, anyway,” he said. “Debates are very nice for the media, but the public can judge. It knows who will take care of the big problems. It needs, it wants a strong prime minister with a strong party behind him. Whoever wants to strengthen me, should give power to my party.”
“I would vote for me [as prime minister],” Netanyahu quipped.