Netanyahu and Lieberman say portfolios not an obstacle

Sa'ar reports progress with Shas and Israel Beiteinu; Netanyahu will reportedly be finance minister.

liberman 248.88 ariel (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski  [file])
liberman 248.88 ariel
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Prime minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu met on Thursday night with Israel Beiteinu head Avigdor Lieberman. Upon concluding the meeting, the two said that they had not discussed the question of which portfolios would go to Israel Beiteinu in the next cabinet and that the issue would not constitute an obstacle to Lieberman's party joining a Likud-led coalition. Earlier on Thursday, MK Gideon Sa'ar, head of the Likud's negotiating team, said Following coalition talks with Shas and Israel Beiteinu representatives that much progress was made in the meetings but noted that the issue of portfolios was not dealt with. "We had two long meetings. Significant progress was made in both and I'm optimistic about our ability to finish quickly," Sa'ar said immediately after the meetings ended in Ramat Gan's Kfar Hamaccabia on Thursday evening. "There are still issues that have to be dealt with, we did not deal with portfolios yet," he added. However, sources close to PNetanyahu were quoted by Channel 2 as saying that the Likud chairman has decided to hold onto the Finance portfolio in the coming government. According to the report, Netanyahu intends to name a senior businessman as an adjunct and appoint him "minister in the Finance Ministry," a post that was held by Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit, currently of Kadima, during Netanyahu's previous tenure as finance minister in the Sharon government. Among the topics addressed during the meeting between Likud's negotiating team and Israel Beiteinu representatives, were the fight against terror, assistance for immigrants and electoral reform, including making it harder for the Knesset to topple a prime minister, said Israel Beiteinu MK Stas Meseznikov. In addition, the two parties discussed which ministerial committee Israel Beiteinu would chair. "We all know that our current system cannot go on if we want stability," Meseznikov said. However, a number of issues remained unresolved, such as which portfolios the party would be granted, as well as the contentious issues of civil unions, conversions and an oath of loyalty, which Lieberman has said all citizens must accept. Following the meeting with Israel Beiteinu, Likud met with Shas. Before beginning the talks, Shas chairman Eli Yishai told reporters that both parties would discuss how to resolve the problems of those who could not marry without violating Jewish law. Yishai said the issues of unemployment and increasing child welfare payments would also be raised, and if time allowed, the parties would talk about portfolio distribution. Senior Shas MK Ariel Attias echoed his party leader's comments before the meeting, saying that there would not "be security until there was social security."