Liberman reveals Likud talks hit a 'dead end'

Yisrael Beytenu head says coalition talks on hold until a counter-offer on pension reform is received, apologizes for insulting Netanyahu.

Hezki Baruch ,

Avigdor Liberman
Avigdor Liberman
Hezki Baruch

Yisrael Beytenu chairperson Avigdor Liberman spoke about the coalition negotiations with Likud during a meeting of his party on Monday, and revealed the talks have hit a dead end.

"Unfortunately we still haven't reached agreements in terms of the pension reform, and we are waiting for another offer," said Liberman, who was given his request to be appointed Defense Minister, leading Moshe Ya'alon to resign last Friday.

"After the elections we went to the president and recommended Binyamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister. If after the elections they had offered us the defense portfolio and a pension reform we could have already reached agreements then," he added.

A third condition Liberman had claimed last week was applying the death penalty for terrorist murderers, but he apparently has folded on that demand.

Speaking before his party members, Liberman continued, saying, "the whole time we emphasized that we have no expectation to receive 100% of our demands. We managed the negotiations with an intention to end them as quickly as possible."

"We compromised on many topics in order to prove our good will. We compromised on matters of religion and state, we compromised on the matter of a death penalty for terrorists. On two matters we are unwilling to compromise - the defense (ministry) and the pension reform."

Liberman emphasized that the pension reform isn't only intended for new immigrants, saying, "we are talking about a pension reform for everyone, not only for immigrants from the Commonwealth of (Independent) States (i.e. former Soviet Union - ed.)."

"We want to fix injustices and we aren't (just) looking for someone to throw us a bone. The proposals we received from the Finance Ministry are proposals that we cannot accept," he said.

The Yisrael Beytenu head said, "I obligate myself to accept the offer proposed by (chairman of the National Economic Council) Prof. Eugene Kandel, if it is acceptable for everyone."

"The offer to spread it out until 2020 says that the addition for every family this year will be between 50 and 100 shekels - we didn't go to the elections for that. At least on this topic we reached a dead end and therefore we are waiting for other offers," he said. "With all the desire to receive the defense portfolio, without a positive response on the issue of the pension reform we will not be able to advance."

According to Liberman, "there is no ultimatum, I am not limited by time, I'm not rushing anywhere. I'm not managing negotiations, I'm waiting for a written offer that we can accept."

Later in his comments Liberman sought to take back his frequent harsh criticism of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in recent months, which he aired on numerous occasions, terming Netanyahu a "liar" among other things.

"I admit and confess, in the heat of the political debate unnecessary things were said. I didn't need to say that and I apologize for what I said - even if we don't reach understandings in the negotiations and I remain in the Opposition. My words were unnecessary. I'm not perfect."

He also referred to former MK Orli Levi-Abekasis, who suddenly quit his party last week in protest of the coalition talks.

According to Liberman the resignation came for personal and not political reasons, saying, "it's strange that for seven years I didn't hear any criticism but rather praise (from her). After she understood that she would not be a minister, suddenly she claimed that we aren't advancing social processes."