Lieberman Won’t Sit With Herzog, Livni

YERUSHALAYIM -

As the Likud struggles to placate its potential coalition partners, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday morning that if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu opts for a national unity government with the Zionist Camp, his Yisrael Beitenu party would not join the coalition.

“Netanyahu has the right to close a deal with Herzog and [his number two, Tzipi] Livni,” Lieberman told Israel Radio. “We wouldn’t be part of such a government. That I can say definitely. He won the election. We would be happy to serve the nation in the opposition. I wasn’t born in the Foreign Ministry and I don’t have to be a minister.”

Lieberman accused the Likud of “stalling” in coalition talks, a possible ploy to create a unity government.

Israel Radio quoted sources in Likud saying Netanyahu would prefer that Lieberman goes into the opposition, affording him more latitude in negotiations for the defense ministry and other portfolios.

Coalition talks will be held Sunday with United Torah Judaism and Monday with Jewish Home and Shas. Shas leader Arye Deri told reporters “we are ready to close a deal as soon as possible.

“It is too bad there isn’t a government yet. But I think it will still take time, because it depends on other factions that are required to form a coalition. I hope the other factions come to their senses and realize their place.”

Jewish Home’s Naftali Bennett and Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon are reportedly holding out for more ministerial posts and committee chairmanships than Netanyahu is prepared to give.