Lieberman to Haaretz: I'm Not Quitting Politics - I'll Fight in Opposition as Ordinary MK

Outgoing foreign minister estimates that a narrow majority coalition of 61 MKs won't last long.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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Avigdor Lieberman and his bodyguards near Sderot.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkowitz
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Outgoing Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Haaretz on Monday that he does not intend to retire from politics, hours after he announced that he would quit his post as foreign minister and that his party would not join the emerging coalition.

"I'm going to remain a Knesset member and fight from within the opposition – and I know how to fight," said Lieberman. "I've heard talk that I intend to retire and leave, but I'm staying in the Knesset. I'll work as an ordinary MK and lead Yisrael Beiteinu during the next elections."

 Lieberman believes that a new governing coalition based on a narrow majority of 61 MKs will have a great difficulty in functioning. "It will be an impossible government," Lieberman said, adding "they will constantly need to bring people in for committee meetings and votes. I don't see that happening. The coalition will have to make deals with MKs from the Arab List before each vote, or they won't pass any legislation. This government won't be able to get anything done, and I don't know how long it will last."

 The Yisrael Beiteinu chairman also lashed out at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accusing him of backtracking on all the commitments he made during the previous government in order to reach a coalition agreement with the ultra-Orthodox parties. "They closed everything down the Haredim," said Lieberman. "The conversion law, equality in sharing the burden, the governance law the ink had yet to dry on these laws, and now they've forgotten them all. Exorbitant amounts of money will be allocated to Haredi education without core subjects, and they plan on increasing the number of minister and deputy minister positions."

 Lieberman noted that 90 percent of his conversations with Netanyahu during the coalition talks focused on diplomatic and security issues, and that the left Yisrael Beiteinu's negotiating team to work out basic principles of the government with the Likud team. "I trusted our negotiating team and I told them that anything they agreed upon would be acceptable to me," Lieberman said. "But after a few weeks, Moshe Leon, head of the negotiating team gave up hope because he saw that Likud had already given everything away. We got chopped up while they made concessions to the Haredim."

Lieberman says that his party's focus in the opposition will be to attempt to prevent any changes to the governance law, and prevent the addition of more ministerial positions. Lieberman also noted that he intends to resume attacks on the government over its handling of the situation in the Gaza Strip, and its reluctance to bring down the Hamas government there.

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