Lieberman threatens to dismantle government over West Bank outpost demolitions
Foreign minister says Netanyahu's coalition won't survive winter session if evacuation orders go through.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman laid down two conditions for his party's continued membership in the coalition, on Monday: The West Bank settlement outposts of Migron and Givat Assaf must not be evacuated, and tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority must remain frozen.
Speaking at the weekly meeting of his Yisrael Beiteinu party's Knesset faction, Lieberman said that if these two conditions were met, he thought the government would survive the Knesset's winter session.
He also said he had made his position clear to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Both Migron and Givat Assaf are slated for evacuation by order of the High Court of Justice, which has deemed them illegal.
"Migron is not an illegal outpost," Lieberman argued at the meeting. "It's a community where then-Defense Minister Moshe Arens and the [army's] GOC Central Command stood beside the cornerstone at its founding."
"How did it suddenly become an illegal outpost? Because attorney Talia Sasson wrote a report and then ran for Knesset as a Meretz member?" he asked, referring to a report on the legality of settlements and outposts written at a previous government's request. "Because of this we need to destroy an entire community, 30 percent of whose residents are members of the security forces? In which, since its establishment, children have been born and then gone into the army?"
He said he felt the same way about Givat Assaf, and if either one was dismantled, that would be grounds for dismantling the coalition. "Not just Yisrael Beiteinu would leave, but more than a few Likud members would also be unable to live with such a situation," he added.
Another "red line," Lieberman said, was resuming tax transfers to the PA. On Monday, the forum of eight senior ministers, of whom he is one, decided to continue withholding this money, comprised of taxes Israel collects on the PA's behalf. Doing otherwise would be inconceivable in light of recent developments in the PA, he said.
"They're going for a government with Hamas; they're ousting Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who's a reasonable and moderate man. They gave grants of $5,000 to each of the terrorists freed in the Shalit deal and they want to build an apartment for every one of them. Let's say each such apartment costs several thousand dollars. Multiply that by 1,000. Where will the money come from? From what we transfer to them. No way will we agree to resume transferring money under these conditions."