Likud Negotiator: Liberman Made ‘Absurd’ Demands

YERUSHALAYIM -
israel elections
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In his post-mortem to the failed attempts by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to form a coalition, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, who headed the Likud’s coalition negotiating team, said it was clear to him that Avigdor Liberman was not planning to join a prospective government. That was clear, Levin said Thursday in an interview on Reshet Bet, because of the “ridiculous” demands he made as his price for doing so.

“Unfortunately, it was clear to me that Liberman was not interested in joining the government, for several reasons – among this his unbelievable stance on the draft law.” Liberman had demanded that the law be passed on its second and third reading in exactly the same form that Yisrael Beytenu proposed it in its first reading – something that never happens, Levin said. “There is no such thing as a bill that is not changed in its second and third reading,” he added.

Although there are only five Yisrael Beytenu MKs, Liberman demanded that his party get three ministries, and directorship of five government offices. One of those ministries was the Absorption Ministry, “and he wanted to turn it into a mini-Foreign Ministry, with 15 representatives all over the world. It was an absurd demand. This system of small parties with big demands is very damaging to political stability. Liberman managed to bring down two right-wing governments in a matter of months. He is cheating the public.”

In response, Yisrael Beytenu said in a statement that the minister “should be in the world-records book as the biggest liar in history for the way he handled the coalition negotiations.” Levin, who was still being interviewed when the statement was released, responded by saying that “when they can’t find anything inaccurate with what a person says, they attack the person. I will not lower myself to their level of speech. Everything I said is true. Liberman is going to live with himself, and his conscience is going to have to deal with the terrible damage he has done to Israelis.”