“Concerned” MKs and ministers should “stop their wailing and mourning” on the occasion of the naming of Avigdor Liberman as defense minister, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in remarks Sunday night at a press conference.
“I hear a lot of cries and concerns in the media, replete with attempts to sow fear among Israelis. I suggest that those voices calm themselves from their wailing and mourning,” the prime minister said, referring to the media storm criticizing the appointment of Liberman to the job. “I am on top of the defense of Israel and I guide the defense establishment,” Netanyahu said. “Apparently, I am not doing too bad a job. We have had an advanced and responsible defense policy that is designed to protect the security of Israel, and that will continue. We will also seek to advance opportunities for peace in the region.”
Negotiating teams from the Likud and Yisrael Beytenu were putting the final touches on the coalition agreement, which is likely to be signed Tuesday. Joining the coalition talks will be Finance Minister Moshe Kachlon in order to discuss some of the financial issues in the agreement, including expansion of pensions to Russian immigrants who did not earn enough money to qualify for a state pension in Israel. If all goes well, Liberman will officially join the coalition and assume the office of defense minister on Tuesday.
While the defense minister post vacated by Moshe Yaalon is being filled, Netanyahu said that he would leave open the economic and foreign ministries, in order to allow for more coalition partners to join the government – specifically, Zionist Camp. On Monday, Yitzchak Herzog dispelled that notion, saying that as far as he was concerned, he was through negotiating with Netanyahu. “The door on these talks is closed, and we are moving on to the next stage. I congratulate Yaalon on his brave action,” Herzog wrote in a social media post.
Given that, there was speculation Wednesday that Netanyahu would at least appoint an economy minister in the coming days. Sources close to the prime minister told Yisrael Hayom that he would prefer to keep the Foreign Ministry post for himself.