Lieberman Likely to Be Renamed Defense Minister amid Coalition Impasse

Israel's right-wing poltiician Avigdor Lieberman. (Photo:

Far-right party Yisrael Beiteinu’s Avigdor Lieberman is expected to be renamed as Defense Minister, ending weeks of deadlock in talks to form a new ruling coalition in Israel.

According to local media, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to hand the defense portfolio back to Lieberman, just six months after he suddenly resigned from the post after a spat about Israel’s policy in the besieged Gaza Strip.

According to a report by Ynet,

“An unnamed source involved in the negotiation process between the Prime Minister and Lieberman said that new guidelines regarding Israel’s strategy towards [Hamas in Gaza] have been agreed on.”

The Israeli daily added that Lieberman yesterday held meetings with the Israeli Army Chief of Staff and Shin Bet officials, with Netanyahu’s approval. “This,” the newspaper said, “has added to speculation” that Lieberman will resume his former role.

Despite today’s apparent breakthrough in coalition talks, Netanyahu still has a number of disagreements to resolve if he is to meet the May 29 deadline to form a government.

Following the April 9 election, he was tasked with forming the new government by Israel’s President, Reuven Rivlin, due to his position as incumbent Prime Minister.

However, due to the impasse between his coalition factions, Netanyahu was earlier this month forced to ask for a two-week extension to form a government. If he remains unsuccessful by the end of May, the task will fall to presumed opposition leader Benny Gantz, whose Blue and White (Kahol Lavan) alliance won the same number of seats as Netanyahu’s Likud.

Former Chief of Staff Gantz, however, is likely to struggle to form a coalition, given his apparent refusal to work with the Arab-Israeli parties Hadash-Ta’al and Ra’am-Balad and the weakness of the left-wing parties in the wake of the election.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

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