Report: Liberman turned down Defense Minister

Yisrael Beytenu head rejects position, promise of death penalty for terrorists; says current gov't not really right-wing.

Ido Ben-Porat ,

Avigdor Liberman
Avigdor Liberman
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu recently offered Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman the Defense Minister position, Channel 10 reports Tuesday, if his party joined the coalition. 

Nertanyahu also offered Liberman a commitment to uphold a "death penalty for terrorists" policy Liberman has championed for years. 

But Liberman evidently turned him down. 

A senior Likud source told Arutz Sheva late Tuesday that the move was due to Netanyahu's beliefs that "a broad government can better cope with political, security, and economic challenges." Currently, the coalition is teetering with a treacherous 61 MKs - a majority of just one in the 120-seat Knesset. 

But Yisrael Beytenu sources rejected this claim, saying that Netanyahu continues to deceive voters about his promises of a right-wing government, even more so since Netanyahu has entered serious talks with jis political nemesis Yitzhak Herzog (Zionist Union) about a unity government. 

"Since the elections, Yisrael Beytenu demands the establishment of a genuine national government - which overthrows the Hamas regime in Gaza, builds up Ariel and Ma'aleh Adumim, and void [Joint List MKs] Ayman Odeh and Hanin Zoabi from running for the Knesset," Yisrael Beytenu sources fired.  

Polls Monday showed that a vast majority of Israelis are opposed to a unity government, with Zionist Union voters in particular outraged over the proposal. 

If elections were held today, Liberman's party would gain three additional seats as Likud would lose several, two separate studies have indicated - most likely due to voter frustration over a string of stalled promises from Netanyahu. Jewish Home, the Knesset's other right-wing party, would also stand to gain several seats, the projections show