Steinitz: Liberman will not assume defense portfolio

Livni also attacks suggestion that Liberman could become defense minister, calling the prospect an "existential threat" to Israel.

Liberman and Netanyahu 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/ The Jerusalem Post)
Liberman and Netanyahu 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/ The Jerusalem Post)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman will remain in his current ministerial role and not seek the defense or finance portfolio should the unified Likud-Yisrael Beytenu list form the next government, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz suggested Sunday.
Former Kadima head Tzipi Livni on Sunday attacked the suggestion that Liberman could assume the coveted portfolio, calling the idea an "existentialist threat" to the State of Israel.
Late last week, Liberman said that according to his agreement with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, he would serve as either foreign, defense or finance minister in the next government, although he said already at that time that he preferred to remain at the helm of the Foreign Ministry.
Asked before Sunday's cabinet meeting whether he was worried about retaining his ministry, Finance Minister Steinitz told reporters that as far as he knows, it is a done deal that Liberman will remain foreign minister.
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"We are talking about an existential threat to the State of Israel," Livni said. "Netanyahu is losing his senses and is gambling with Israel's security out of political and survivalist considerations."
She added: "Liberman was the one who threatened to bomb the Aswan dam [in Egypt.] Is this the defense minister that Israel needs right now? The answer is clear."
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report