Liberman: We Will Demand the Defense Ministry

Yisrael Beytenu chairman says his party will demand that its member be Defense Minister as a condition for joining a coalition.

Elad Benari ,

Avigdor Liberman
Avigdor Liberman
Ben Kelmer/Flash 90

The Yisrael Beytenu party will demand to receive the Defense Ministry in the next government, party leader Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman declared on Saturday night.

Speaking on Channel 2 News, Liberman said that his party will condition joining a coalition on having one of its members be appointed Defense Minister.

“50 days of war and Hamas remains in power, continues to produce missiles. There cannot be a situation as there was in the north, when two soldiers were killed and Israel did not respond. Look how Jordan responded to the burning alive of the pilot, that’s what the reaction should be,” he said, in a harsh criticism of Israel’s current defense policy.

“This is the only approach which is relevant to the Middle East. Therefore, we will demand the defense portfolio and we will receive the defense portfolio,” he stressed.

The comments echo ones he made after the recent clash near the Lebanon border, where Hezbollah terrorists killed two Israeli soldiers.

At the time, Liberman called for a fierce and swift IDF response to the incident.

In Saturday night’s interview, Liberman also addressed recent polls which have shown his party falling to as few as five or six seats, but said he is sure Yisrael Beytenu will make a strong showing.

"We are 40 days before the election. 40 days before the 2009 elections, the polls gave us less than what we received in the elections themselves (15 seats), so let’s see what happens in 40 days. Since the establishment of the party we have been persistent and have never zigzagged, the voter knows us," he said.

As for who he would recommend for Prime Minister following the election, Liberman took a more cautious approach compared to several days ago, when he unequivocally declared that Yisrael Beytenu would not be part of a government headed by the left.

"We are an integral part of the nationalist camp and we will do everything to ensure that it remains in power,” he said, but added, “I have said I do not rule out anyone, I’ve sat in a unity government with Netanyahu and with Herzog. They too sat together in the same government, I sat with Deri and Gafni. It's not an issue of personality, we are interested in what the government's platform will be.”