With Lieberman-Netanyahu Pact All but Certain, Ya'alon's Political Future Is Anything But

With his defense portfolio likely to be taken away from him, Ya'alon has to still to be offered with another cabinet position. In phone call, Netanyahu had only vague reassurance: Nothing is yet certain, disregard the media.

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Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon.Credit: Emil Salman
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Uncertainty still clouded Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon's political future as of Thursday evening, while Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu were working on finalizing a coalition deal that was widely believed to see his portfolio taken away from him.

Contrary to earlier report, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has yet to offer Ya'alon the Foreign Ministry, though sources close Ya'alon said that he intends to consider the position if Netanyahu offers it to him. At the same time, they said that he hasn't ruled out the possibility that he'll resign the government in protest and maybe even relinquish his Knesset seat. 

Netanyahu called Ya'alon late on Thursday, while the Likud's negotiation team was meeting with Yisrael Beiteinu in an effort to finalize the deal. In their talk, Netanyahu relayed a vague message, telling Ya'alon that it was not yet certain that Lieberman would get the defense portfolio and asking him to ignore media reports to the contrary. 

A cabinet minister who wished to remain nameless told Haaretz that Netanyahu was seriously considering making Ya'alon foreign minister. "Ya'alon the moderate will improve the image of the Lieberman government internationally, and will find it difficult to sabotage the prime minister," the cabinet minister told Ha'aretz.  

Though Ya'alon made no direct comments on the coalition negotiations, he said Thursday that he has been "surprised" of late at a "loss of moral compass on basic questions" in Israeli society. "We need to steer the country in accordance with one's conscience and not whichever way the wind is blowing," said Ya'alon at a seminar of Israel's Youth Movement in Tel Aviv.

Negotiations between Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu were scheduled to continue on Friday morning, and it was believed an agreement will be finalized later that day. The two sides have agreed on the positions Yisrael Beiteinu will receive: Aside from Lieberman, who'll take over from Ya'alon as defense minister, MK Sofa Landver will retake the reins at the Immigration Ministry as well as Nativ. In the Knesset, the party will appoint a deputy speaker and head a committee, the identity of which was yet apparently undecided. Either Lieberman or Landver will have a seat at the Ministerial Legislative Committee, at the State Ceremonies and Symbols Committee and at the Social-Economic Cabinet. At the same time, Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu are looking into setting in motion Lieberman's bill for death sentence for terrorists.