A deal to bring Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party into Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s governing coalition was signed Wednesday. Lieberman and fellow Yisrael Beiteinu Member of Knesset Sofa Landver are set to be sworn in as government ministers May 30—Lieberman as defense minister and Landver as immigrant absorption minister.
The deal expands the Likud party-led coalition in the Israeli Knesset from 61 to 66 MKs out of the legislative body’s 120 members. Netanyahu and Lieberman held a joint press conference Wednesday morning after signing the coalition deal. Netanyahu said he and Lieberman were joining forces to “move Israel forward,” vowing that he and Lieberman would “protect Israel’s security with determination and responsibility.”
“Israel needs governmental stability to deal with the challenges we face and take advantage of the opportunities we are being presented with,” Netanyahu said.
Regarding his relationship with Lieberman—Israel’s former foreign minister—Netanyahu said, “I appreciate his skills and experience. We’ve worked together in the past for the good of Israel’s citizens. It’s no secret that we’ve had some disagreements. This is part of political life, and at stormy moments things were said that should not have been said.”
Lieberman said, “Ultimately, the most important issue is the security of the citizens of Israel. This is why we left everything else aside and made the effort to come together….I’m committed to level-headed policies that will ensure stability for our country. The coalition will now be stronger and more stable.”
The talks to bring Yisrael Beiteinu into the coalition had stalled in recent days due to a disagreement between Lieberman and Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon over Lieberman’s proposed pension reform.