Liberman, Netanyahu finalize coalition agreement

May 24, 2016  

Yisrael Beytenu chairman MK Avigdor Liberman is one step closer towards being appointed Israel’s Defense Minister, after an agreement was reached overnight Tuesday on his demands to join the coalition.

The agreement was reached during a meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Liberman, which took place at Netanyahu’s office in Jerusalem.

Sources in the Likud said after the meeting that Liberman and Netanyahu will officially sign the coalition agreement, which will see Liberman be appointed Defense Minister, during the day on Wednesday.

The issue of contention between the parties was Liberman’s demand for additional pensions for new immigrants, which the Finance Ministry refused due to its sectarian nature.

However, reports in Israeli media overnight Tuesday said that the sides agreed that the outline will apply to all seniors, not just those who immigrated from the former Soviet Union, and the funding will be 1.3-1.4 billion shekels annually.

Due to the delay in signing the coalition agreement, Liberman’s swearing in as Defense Minister will be delayed and will not take place this week.

According to protocol, once the coalition agreement is signed it must be made available to Knesset members for a period of at least 24 hours. Knesset discussions are scheduled to conclude earlier than usual on Wednesday due to the holiday of Lag Ba’omer, hence the postponement until next week.

Meanwhile, despite signing with Liberman, Netanyahu may be headed towards another crisis in the coalition, this time with Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett.

Earlier on Tuesday, Bennett demanded that Netanyahu appoint a military secretary to update the Cabinet on IDF affairs at all times.

The demand was due to a report on Operation Protective Edge and the Second Lebanon War, which found that critical intelligence was not shared with Cabinet members and that they were not properly trained for their position, which resulted in a lack of competence on the part of some ministers.

Netanyahu did not respond to Bennett’s statement, and the latter said later on Tuesday that he intends to oppose the appointment of Liberman as Defense Minister if the Prime Minister continues to deflect the proposal.

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