Liberman Gives Likud Ultimatum: ‘They Have Our Phone Numbers’

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avigdor liberman
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman addressing a faction meeting at the Knesset on Monday. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Avigdor Liberman ratcheted up his ultimatum politics on Monday, threatening that if his demands aren’t met, he will not join the coalition, and may go instead to the Blue and White-led opposition.

Liberman said he has discontinued negotiations with the Likud until or unless they agree to Yisrael Beytenu’s list of demands. If the talks collapse, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will be short of a majority needed to form the next government.

“They have our phone numbers,” he said.

Security issues seemed to be at the top of the list, essentially pressing for a tougher policy in Gaza.

“What is the endgame in Gaza?” he asked. “We can’t have an operation every few years and a drizzle [of rockets] in the middle. It’s intolerable. We need to focus on an endgame. No one else will do it for us.”

If the next coalition “decides to defeat [Hamas], we will be loyal partners,” he stated. “There shouldn’t be any agreements [with Hamas] until our captive soldiers and civilians are brought home.”

Regarding issues of state and religion, he claimed that he has not agreed to compromise on the chareidi draft, among other things, and denied reports that a compromise was in the works.

Some matters have been settled though. Likud has agreed to give the party the defense and immigrant absorption portfolios, and will support passage of a bill to facilitate the death penalty for convicted terrorists. The death penalty for terrorists already exists, but Yisrael Beytenu’s bill would allow its imposition if a majority of judges vote for it, instead of the unanimous vote currently required.

Still, Liberman said, “significant gaps” remained with Likud, and now it’s up to them.