Targeting Religion and State, Liberman Names Demands for Joining Govt., Gantz Agrees

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Photo by Hillel Maeir/TPS on 14 November, 2018

By Benjamin Brown • 8 March, 2020

The leader of the Yisrael Beitenu party, Avigdor Liberman, has outlined the basic demands for his party to join a coalition, focusing mainly on the issue of religion and state.

In a Facebook post, Liberman spelled out the “bare minimum” Yisrael Beitenu would require to join a government, a party spokesperson said.

Liberman demands that decisions over business opening hours and public transport on Shabbat are transferred to local authorities and Israel introduces civil marriage. Issues surrounding public transport and business hours on Shabbat currently lie in the hands of the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of the Interior. Several cities have allowed the opening of businesses on Shabbat and are providing bus services locally, and the government has chosen to refrain from addressing the matter.

Israel recognizes civil marriages performed abroad, but only religious marriages are possible inside of Israel.

Additionally, Haredi recruitment to the IDF is to be upped significantly in accordance with a bill he has previously drafted, and Orthodox conversion regulations are to be softened, with every municipal chief rabbi allowed to establish courts for conversion.

The one demand Liberman posted not related to the issue of religion and state was his plan for pensioners to receive at least 70 percent of Israeli minimum wage (minimum wage: 5300 NIS/1500 USD) as part of their income support.

Shortly after, Blue and White leader and Prime Ministerial candidate Benny Gantz took to Twitter to agree with Liberman’s demands, writing: “Agreed. We must move forward.”

If Liberman and the Arab-majority Joint List agreed to support Gantz, the former IDF Chief-of-Staff would have the necessary majority of Members of Knesset (MK) to form a government. Such a coalition is currently very unlikely as the two parties despise each other, and should the status quo remain, Israel could very well be heading to a fourth election.

Liberman is unlikely to support a government headed by current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and has indicated his support for a bill that would prevent indicted MKs from forming a government, ending the indicted Netanyahu’s hopes of remaining PM.

Liberman admitted that Netanyahu is a personal issue, with a Likud party led by another politician likely to gain Yisrael Beitenu’s support.

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