Netanyahu offers Lieberman defence portfolio


Avigdor Lieberman, Chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu, has been offered the Defence Ministry and the Immigrant Absorption Ministry as part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to expand the Israeli coalition government, it has been announced.

Mr Netanyahu informed cabinet ministers of the offer this afternoon, following a meeting with Mr Lieberman.

Mr Lieberman said at a press conference in the Knesset this morning that Yisrael Beiteinu had been offered a place in the government “before the present government was formed” but had rejected these offers on principle. He added: "If our main issues are resolved, then we could talk."

There had previously been reports that Yisrael Beiteinu had been offered the defence portfolio, the immigrant absorption portfolio, or the passage of a law allowing the death penalty for terrorists, but Mr Liberman said: “In practice, we have not heard anything official."

He added: "Negotiations should not be handled secretly or through envoys," he said. "They should be held openly, with full transparency."

"Our conditions are known and clear," he said. "If, as I hear, there is the will to reform pension security, that is a respectable offer."

Likud has been looking to accelerate coalition talks, with Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, who has been tasked with managing the negotiations, calling on Mr Lieberman to "complete the negotiations today."

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz also offered his support for the move, calling Yisrael Beiteinu "a natural partner to a government led by Likud."

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