Lieberman threatens to join opposition

Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Lieberman said he has ended coalition negotiations and threatened to join the opposition if his political demands are not met.

Lieberman has demanded a decisive defeat of Hamas in Gaza; the chair of the Knesset’s Internal Affairs Committee; passing the law to increase military conscription of ultra-Orthodox men; pension reforms; and an end to the Chief Rabbinate’s practice of demanding DNA tests from Russian-speaking immigrant to prove their Jewish heritage.

Lieberman said: “I don’t intend to meet with anyone anymore. They know the demands. If they want we will be [in the coalition], if they don’t want we will go to the opposition.”

The ultra-Orthodox parties have demanded significant changes to the military conscription law and Benjamin Netanyahu met last night in his office with Yaakov Litzman and Moshe Gafni from the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party to discuss the issue.

Lieberman also said that he would not agree to be defence minister if Netanyahu rejected his plan to dismantle the West Bank Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, a plan which the UK other European states have urged Israel not to implement.

President Reuven Rivlin agreed to grant Netanyahu’s request for a two week extension to the initial 28 day period to form his Government. Netanyahu’s prospective coalition includes Likud (35 seats), two ultra-Orthodox – Shas and United Torah Judaism parties (8 seats each), the United Right (5 seats), Kulanu (4 seats) and Yisrael Beiteinu (5 seats). Without Yisrael Beiteinu, Netanyahu cannot form a governing coalition.