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      Likud and Yisrael Beytenu Splitting Up?

      The two factions, which teamed up for the elections, apparently prefer to be independent again.
      By Gil Ronen
      First Publish: 3/18/2013, 8:52 AM

      Lieberman and Netanyahu
      Lieberman and Netanyahu
      Israel news photo: Flash 90

      Likud and Yisrael Beytenu appear set to announce that they are breaking the bond between them, in order to become independent factions once more. This news is being leaked by sources in Yisrael Beytenu, and is not being denied by Likud sources.

      The two parties merged in late October, in a move that was apparently intended to prevent a criminal investigation against Yisrael Beytenu's chairman, Avigdor Lieberman, from blocking his party's chances of entering the 19th Knesset. The joint list received 31 Knesset seats.

      Now that Lieberman has inserted himself and other members of his party into the Knesset, the parties appear set to split again. According to reports, Lieberman's faction will have 11 MKs and Likud will remain with 20.

      Sources in Yisrael Beytenu emphasized that the re-splitting of the parties into independent factions does not reflect any sort of crisis between Lieberman and Likud head, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

      Netanyahu continues to hold the Foreign Minister's post vacant for Lieberman. MK Zeev Elkin (Likud) will be appointed Deputy Foreign Minister and will run the ministry until Lieberman's trial is over. At that point he will return – assuming the court's decision does not prevent him from doing so.