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Lapid & Bennett: Lieberman’s Return a Coalition Violation

labeAfter being acquitted of all charges against him, the path has been cleared for Avigdor Lieberman to return to his former post as foreign minister. While being congratulated by cabinet ministers who voted unanimously to approve his return, Ministers Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid told Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that Lieberman will become the 23rd cabinet minister, and the coalition agreement sets the maximum number at 22.

Lapid and Bennett are unwilling to break the coalition agreement to accommodate a 23rd minister and they feel a cabinet minister from Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party will have to resign to permit Lieberman to return.

Bennett told the prime minister that he does not have the right to make a unilateral decision and by doing so, Bayit Yehudi will feel free to violate the coalition agreements when it sees fit. Yair Lapid is less flexible, telling the prime minister adding a 23rd minister is a non-starter and his party will not tolerate it.

Both Lapid and Bennett also exchanged words with Mr. Netanyahu regarding a replacement for Lieberman who served as chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee. The leading candidate is Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi, who is close to the prime minister and he has served in the post in the past. Yesh Atid wants the chairman post to go to MK Ofir Shelah. The prime minister explained to the two party leaders that the appointment of a chairman of major committees in the Knesset have been done with the prime minister’s approval. From Lapid’s perspective, “What was in the past is not what is going to be now”. Mr. Netanyahu stated “What was in the past is what is going to be now”. Once again, the two are head-to-head in a power struggle over the committee leadership slot and adding another minister to the cabinet.

Both Lapid and Bennett explained they do not object to Lieberman’s appointment as foreign minister, but they object to the way the prime minister is trying to go about it, without first discussing the matter with the senior coalition partners. Despite the arguments around the cabinet table Lieberman’s return was approved by the ministers at Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting.

Adding to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s coalition woes are Bayit Yehudi demands for control of one of two Knesset committees; the Law Committee which is currently in Yisrael Beitenu control or the Education Committee, which is headed by The Movement. Both Bennett and Lapid insist there will be no compromise.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

3 Responses

  1. With egos this big it’s a wonder that any two of them can fit in one meeting room together, let alone the entire cabinet.

    See Sotah 5a (“ain Ani vehu yecholin ladur ba’olam”)

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