Lieberman mulls joining coalition

Unilateral withdrawals unacceptable; favors "pragmatic, not fanatic" Right.

avigdor lieberman 2 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
avigdor lieberman 2
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The price of Israel Beiteinu's entry into the coalition is the Internal Security portfolio, Avigdor Lieberman told Channel 2 on Saturday night. "We won't give up on the Internal Security portfolio. We ran on this point in the elections, we received the voters trust and we have no intention of violating that trust," he said. Calling himself a member of the "pragmatic right" rather then the "fanatic right," Lieberman said he believed his party would enter the coalition despite the differences of opinion between himself and Prime Minister-designate Ehud Olmert on the issue of unilateral withdrawals. Lieberman believes territory should be relinquished within the context of an internationally recognized agreement. Creation of permanent borders based on insuring a Jewish majority is one of the most critical issues facing Israel, Lieberman said. He added that he believes that Olmert is also looking to redraw Israel's borders based upon these concerns. "We want permanent borders that are recognized by the international community. If this is within Olmert's platform, we will support it. If not, we won't be a partner," he said. It was likely that the strategic difference between he and Olmert on this matter would never come into play because he did not expect Olmert to last a full term or to execute further unilateral withdrawals. Lieberman spoke of his opposition to unilateral withdrawal explaining that Israel must receive something in return for giving up territory. "There has to be some reward for a withdrawal," he said. "You can't run away without receiving something," he said. He dismissed a reopening of a 1998 investigation against him for fraud and bribery charges as political moves by the police. He said he had a letter in writing from the attorney general informing him that the case was closed. He blamed attempts to renew the investigation on members of the police who do not want him to restore order within law enforcement in Israel. Lieberman advised Likud Party chairman Binyamin Netanyahu to join the government. "He was the best finance minister Israel has had," he said. Despite the strong presence of Russian speakers within the party and that it draws on a large number of Russian-speaking voters, Lieberman said that his party was Israeli in every way. The 48-year old politician, who arrived from Moldova at age 20, said he had lived here for more than half his life and considered himself Israeli. Lieberman renewed his prediction that his party would be the ruling party following the next election. Already he said his party placed first in Ashkelon, Ashdod and Nazeret Elit. "After the next election we will be the largest party," he said.