Liberman Appointed Defense Minister After Compromise

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MK Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) 18.5.16

Liberman Appointed Defense Minister After Compromise

Written by Michael Bachner/TPS on May 30, 2016

Jerusalem (TPS) – The government unanimously approved the appointment of Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Liberman as Israel’s new defense minister on Monday afternoon. The last remaining hurdle preventing Liberman’s party from joining the government was overcome through a compromise deal that ended the two-week-long political crisis between the coalition parties.

The deal was reached during late-night meetings between Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The talks were brokered by Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, an ultra-Orthodox man, who proposed the compromise plan and managed to solve the dispute over the ways the security cabinet operates.

Naftali Bennett had threatened to topple the government and force new elections if a military attaché were not appointed to the security cabinet to provide its members with crucial intelligence such as that which was allegedly kept even from senior cabinet members during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014.

According to Litzman’s proposal, which was approved by both Netanyahu and Bennett, a temporary “security cabinet secretary” will be responsible for updating the ministers on security and diplomatic information until a new committee appointed by Netanyahu submits its plans to reform the security cabinet in several weeks.

“Starting tomorrow morning, Israel’s security cabinet will no longer be without a secretary to brief the ministers,” commented Bennett on the deal. “This agreement could have been reached a week ago, but it is good that it happened now.”

“It was not easy,” said Yaakov Isaac, a spokesman for Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, to Tazpit Press Service (TPS) after the deal was reached. “But Minister Litzman managed to mediate an understanding between Ministers Netanyahu and Bennett.”

Asked what he thought helped Litzman solve the dispute, Isaac said that “he doesn’t know much about security and never sat in the security cabinet. What helped him broker the deal was not his security knowledge, opinions, or religious and cultural background, but rather his neutrality and the fact that he is trusted and appreciated by both sides, as health minister and as a person.”

Liberman’s fellow Yisrael Beiteinu MK Sofa Landver was also appointed to be minister of Aliyah and immigrant absorption on Monday, and Tzachi Hanegbi from the Likud party was appointed as minister without portfolio in the Prime Minister’s Office.

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