Far-Right Gets Key Israeli Portfolios

Israeli Premier-designate Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to give far-right, anti-Arab Avigdor Lieberman several key ministries in the new government, raising eyebrows even within his own Likud party.

"We will know the framework of the coalition within 48 hours," a Netanyahu associate close to the coalition negotiations told the Jerusalem Post on Sunday, March 8.

The source added that the two negotiating teams would meet later Sunday to write the draft agreement, expected to be announced shortly following the party approval.

Under this deal, Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party would be given all the portfolios it demanded: Foreign Affairs, Public Security, Tourism, National Infrastructures and Justice.

The ultra-Orthodox Shas party would be given the Interior, Housing and Construction, and Religious Services ministries.

The remaining portfolios would be distributed among Likud the United Torah Judaism and Habayit Hayehudi parities.

The coalition government of five right-wing parties will have a narrow majority of 61 members in the 120-seat Knesset.

Likud’s main rival ruling Kadima, which won 28 seats in the snap elections, has refused to join a government under Netanyahu who does not support Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

During the election campaign, Netanyahu vowed there would be no Palestinian state if his party was elected.

The hawkish politicians headed a right-wing government in 1996 that fell apart three years later when his far-right partners quit in protest over deals with the Palestinians.

Too Much

In addition to his ministerial demands, Netanyahu has also agreed to many difficult conditions set by Lieberman to join the government.

This includes the drafting of bills that draw a clear line between religion and the state.

It also includes drafting a law to deny National Insurance Institute payments to the families of Israeli Arabs who carry out attacks on Israeli targets.

A legal team representing both sides is also considering legal means to deny former Arab MK Azmi Bishara, now in exile, the parliamentary pension.

Many, including inside the Likud, believe Netanyahu has caved in and paid too much of a price for Lieberman.

"Everyone is angry about the portfolios," a Likud MK told the Post, requesting anonymity.

Likud MK Silvan Shalom, a former foreign minister, will host a rally of Likud supporters later Sunday to protest the deal with Yisrael Beiteinu.

"Bibi is selling everything out to the coalition partners," he said, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname.

"He doesn’t care about us. He only cares about himself."

(IslamOnline.net and Agencies)

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