Liberman: Defense Ministry Appointment Achievement for Russian Olim

Leader of the Israel Beyteinu political party Avigdor Liberman leads a press conference in the Israeli parliament on May 18, 2016. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90 *** Local Caption *** àáéâãåø ìéáøîï éùøàì áéúéðå
Avigdor Liberman talks at a press conference in the Knesset on Wednesday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

His appointment as Defense Minister is not only a personal win, Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman said Thursday morning – but a victory for Russian Jews in Israel, the prospective Defense Minister told Russian language newspaper Vesti, on the eve of the signing of the coalition agreement, which Liberman expects to be completed by Friday morning, he told the newspaper.

“It’s a good morning,” he told the newspaper. “My entry into the Defense Ministry is an important step in breaking the glass ceiling that we, as immigrants from the former Soviet Union, have been facing for years.”

Along with Defense, Yisrael Beytenu will control the Absorption Ministry – and, just as important for Liberman, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu promised him that the coalition would advance legislation to provide government pensions for immigrants who have not been in Israel long enough to get a full pension. Legislation on the matter was inaugurated last year by outgoing Absorption Minister Ze’ev Elkin. “If we can correct this issue and ensure that immigrants will get pensions, this will be a major accomplishment. It will bring national recognition to the status of immigrants and to the Russian-speaking population in Israel,” he told the newspaper.

Another issue Liberman expects to be resolved is a government guarantee that would allow young couples to receive mortgages up to 90 percent of the value of a property. Currently, Israeli banks generally provide no more than 70 percent mortgages, but Yisrael Beytenu MK Orly Levy-Abukasis has proposed legislation whereby the government would offer the rest of the guarantee. The plan is opposed by Finance Minister Moshe Kaclon.