update deskIsrael News

Liberman open to joining Netanyahu, with caveat

if the PM ditches the haredi parties, Avigdor Liberman would join the coalition.

Israel Beitenu leader Avigdor Liberman (top center) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (bottom left), seen at the Israeli Knesset on November 19, 2018. Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90.
Israel Beitenu leader Avigdor Liberman (top center) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (bottom left), seen at the Israeli Knesset on November 19, 2018. Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90.

Knesset member Avigdor Liberman, chairman of the Yisrael Beiteinu Party, on Saturday appeared to soften his hard-line position against serving in a Netanyahu government.

In a tweet, the former foreign, defense and finance minister said he would be willing to sit in a government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on condition that Netanyahu jettisons the haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism.

“It’s true that I don’t believe a word Netanyahu says but there is no personal argument or personal disqualification here,” Liberman tweeted.

“I have said countless times that the State of Israel currently needs a Zionist and liberal coalition, including the Likud movement and without the Orthodox and messianic parties,” he added.

“If Netanyahu is ready to part with his ‘natural’ partners, I will work with all my might for the establishment of a Zionist and liberal coalition with a clear agenda—the establishment of a constitution and the separation of religion and state.”

The ultra-Orthodox parties have 18 seats (Shas-11, UTJ-7) in Netanyahu’s 64-seat Knesset coalition, while’s Liberman’s party has six.

Liberman—once a Likud official and then a dependable Netanyahu ally— has said that he wouldn’t serve with the prime minister “under any conditions or circumstances.” Last September, he called Netanyahu “the scum of the human race who has no red lines.”

Liberman also has been a harsh critic of the ultra-Orthodox, focusing his recent political campaigns against the sector. The virulent tone of his attacks has led to charges of antisemitism by his political foes.

Liberman argues that ultra-Orthodox Jews should be encouraged to join the workforce and not receive government subsidies to study Torah full-time.

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