Liberman sets out demands for coalition government

The Yisrael Beytenu chairman demands ultra-Orthodox enlistment, civil marriage, local control over public transport and commerce on Shabbat.

Avigdor Liberman (photo credit: REUTERS)
Avigdor Liberman
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Yisrael Beytenu chairman MK Avigdor Liberman on Sunday set out his demands for joining a government, stressing matters of religion and state.
Blue and White chairman MK Benny Gantz tweeted his acceptance of Liberman’s requirements a short while later.
Speculation is mounting that Yisrael Beytenu will recommend to President Reuven Rivlin later this week to task Gantz with the first opportunity to form a government.
Yisrael Beytenu is yet to decide which candidate it will recommend to Rivlin. If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would resign and a new Likud leader takes his place, there would be “more options to consider when making recommendations to the president,” a person familiar with the matter said, adding: “It seems like Netanyahu looks more interested in taking people to the streets and riots.”
In a short post on his Facebook page on Sunday, Liberman said he would demand that pensioners living off income support and stipends for the elderly would have a guaranteed monthly income of at least 70% of the minimum wage.
He said he also would insist that all authority over public transportation and commercial activity on Shabbat be devolved to local authorities, unlike the current situation in which the Transportation and Interior ministries have control.
While the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) and hard-line religious-Zionist parties are adamantly opposed to such activities on Shabbat, Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett, who is more liberal, has refused to commit to opposing a law that would ban the new Shabbat transportation systems in Tel Aviv and other cities.
Liberman said any government he joined also would have to pass legislation for increasing haredi enlistment in IDF, which was drafted by the Defense Ministry when he was its minister.
He said he would demand legislation to provide for civil marriage, as well as measures to make Orthodox conversions more accessible and approachable, by allowing municipal chief rabbis, all of whom are accredited by the Chief Rabbinate, to establish their own rabbinical conversion courts.
Absent from Liberman’s list of demands was his previously proposed plan to require haredi elementary schools to teach core curriculum studies as a condition for receiving state funding.
The list of demands was “the bare minimum” Yisrael Beytenu requires, and other measures would be discussed in the future, a party spokesperson said.
A short while after Liberman issued his demands, Gantz tweeted: “Agreed. We have to move forward.”
Although Blue and White generally agrees with Liberman’s demands, one difference is over civil marriage.
Blue and White’s platform calls for “civil partnerships,” a status not totally comparable to civil marriage, although it has the same benefits. Yisrael Beytenu demands full civil marriage.
Blue and White MK Elazar Stern has said marriage is a religious concept, and therefore the party leaves this term to the different religious faiths and denominations and seeks “civil partnerships” for nonreligious unions.