Rabbi Litzman on Liberman: ‘Sometimes He’s Avigdor, and Sometimes He’s Yvette’

YERUSHALAYIM -
Avigdor Liberman (L.) and Deputy Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman arrive to the Cabinet meeting in the Knesset. (Ariel Jerozolimski/Flash90, File)

When it comes to matters of religion and state, the head of Yisrael Beytenu has two distinctive personalities, according to Deputy Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman. In a major interview with Yisrael Hayom, Rabbi Litzman said that “there is Avigdor Liberman, and Yvette Liberman. Avigdor works with us and we can accomplish things with him, such as coming to an agreement on the Draft Law. Yvette, on the other hand, is a politician who goes in various directions, with a split personality.”

“Yvette” is the Russian name Liberman went by in previous years. Nowadays he goes strictly by Avigdor, but the names are a good simile for a man who has become one of Israel’s most enigmatic politicians, Rabbi Litzman said. “Avigdor is a nice Jewish name, and the name of a man we can work with.” Yvette, meanwhile, “is unpredictable. Before the municipal elections he begged us to work with him on candidates for the local elections, in order to get Moshe Leon elected as mayor of Yerushalayim. After that he turned on us.”

“As Deputy Health Minister,” he said, “I know of institutions that can treat split personalities.”

Split or not, Rabbi Litzman said that if the possibility arose, United Torah Judaism would join a government Liberman was part of. If that happens, though, “I will maintain my suspicion of him, of his turning on me again. But if there is no choice, that could happen,” he said.

But the road to such a government was still very long – and the journey might prove to be impossible. “Someone is going to have to give up” on matters of religion and state – either the chareidi parties or Liberman, with one side or the other capitulating on the Draft Law, the Grocery Law, and other issues that Liberman has declared he will oppose, thus preventing him from joining a government that includes chareidi and religious parties, he said. “I don’t know who is going to break first, but I can tell you it won’t be us. Our rightwing and religious bloc is solid and will not break. We meet every week and I can tell you that the bloc is alive and well.”

Despite that, Rabbi Litzman added, “we are not at the point of no return” for a third round of elections. “But if it is a question of elections or breaking up the bloc, in my opinion we will keep the bloc even at the cost of going to elections. Everyone involved realizes that keeping the bloc together means that we may be going to elections.”