Avigdor Liberman
Avigdor LibermanIsrael Bar Association spokesperson

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman acknowledged on Friday that his pre-election statement that he would send the haredi community “in one wheelbarrow to a garbage dump” should not have been made.

“The statement was misunderstood, there was no intention here. It was perhaps not the most successful statement, but so be it,” Liberman said in an interview on the Ofira & Berkovic program which airs on Channel 12.

He rejected claims that the haredim should be concerned over his appointment as Finance Minister, saying, “They should not be afraid. We are doing what is good for them and the country. I do not want to interfere with their lifestyle, nor do I want them to interfere with my lifestyle. They should study core subjects, acquire a profession and not be dependent on donations their entire lives. It is inconceivable that the percentage of eligibility for matriculation in Modi'in is over 90%, and in Modi'in Illit 5.5%. We do not want to harm anyone, but that everyone will contribute to society and integrate into society.”

Liberman predicted that the new government would last for many days: “Before the election, we set three goals - a change of government and its leader, the removal of Shas and United Torah Judaism from the coalition, and that we will get the Treasury portfolio. New goals now need to be set, and the two important goals are to stabilize the coalition and approve the budget. Once we pass a responsible and serious budget and stabilize the coalition, the election will be another four and a half years from now.”

He was asked about his promise before the election not to be part of a coalition with the Ra'am party but ultimately joining a government with Ra'am.

“It was Netanyahu who legitimized Ra'am. Between the alternative of going to a fifth election or forming such an eclectic government, a government is better than a fifth election. I agree that we need to invest in infrastructure in the Arab sector as well,” said Liberman.

Asked whether he thinks Benjamin Netanyahu will return to power, Liberman replied, “Politics are like a wheel, sometime you're up and sometimes you’re down. I don't know if he will come back.”

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)