Reports: Liberman Named New Defense Minister
Jerusalem (TPS) – MK Avigdor Liberman, leader of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, has accepted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer to join his government and become the new defense minister, Israeli media reported on Wednesday evening.
Liberman is set to replace the current defense minister, Moshe Ya’alon, who was reportedly notified of Netanyahu’s offer in advance.
Lieberman and Netanyahu met privately on Wednesday afternoon for over an hour at the prime minister’s office. During the meeting, Netanyahu reportedly offered Liberman the Defense Ministry portfolio as well as the portfolio for the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption (Aliyah) in exchange for Liberman’s faction joining the coalition.
“The meeting was conducted in good spirits and at the end it was decided to establish negotiating teams,” said the official Likud statement immediately after the private meeting.
Shortly afterward, Israeli news outlets all over the country began reporting that sources from Liberman’s circle revealed that he had accepted the prime minister’s offer and will become the next defense minister as early as next week.
Ya’alon will most likely be appointed foreign minister – a position still vacant – as compensation for being ousted from office by Netanyahu to facilitate Yisrael Beiteinu joining the coalition, sources say.
Ya’alon recently butted heads with Netanyahu and several other members of the government over freedom of expression for IDF generals.
Despite the more comfortable coalition majority with the addition of Yisrael Beiteinu, not everyone in the Likud is happy about Ya’alon’s ousting and Liberman’s appointment.
“Appointing Liberman as defense minister is a strange decision, it’s irresponsible,” Likud MK Beni Begin told Israeli Channel 2 News shortly after the agreement was made public.