Barak and Lieberman
Barak and LiebermanIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Likud's two senior partners in the governing coalition are placing pressure on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to approve controversial measures. The timing of the pressure may be connected to the upcoming vote on the state budget. The vote puts Netanyahu in a particularly delicate situation with regard to his coalition partners, who can prevent the budget from passing.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Monday that he wants the cabinet to vote on a resolution that calls for the establishment of an Arab state next to Israel in the Land of Israel.

"It is time to make the Prime Minister's Bar Ilan speech - which defines Israel's position on 'two states for two nations' - into a government decision so that it obligates everybody, all of the ministers, and certainly the ministers who deal with foreign policy," he jabbed Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman during a tour of the Elbit Systems plant.

"We see a process of delegitimization of Israel in the world, being led by our rivals, with the participation of elements that are partly naive and partly motivated by various considerations," Barak added.

"We must act in order to block this process. There is an urgent need for launching a comprehensive Israeli plan that will deal with the core issues, in both the Palestinian matter and on other regional issues. The earlier we launch it, and broadcast its honesty and seriousness worldwide, the better."

If the proposed vote takes place, Netanyahu will probably face great uproar within the nationalist camp, which has recently shown signs of rejuvenation.

Meanwhile, sources in Lieberman's Israel is Our Home party told the media on Monday that the party demands an immediate vote in the government approving the law that would guarantee full legal status to conversions carried out in the IDF. There has been great controversy over IDF conversions in recent months, after a state attorney said that military conversions were not fully recognized. 

If the government votes to approve the law, hareidi-religious parties Shas and United Torah Judaism are likely to leave the coalition.