Ultra-right-wing leader to become Israel's next FM
Far-right leader Avigdor Lieberman would become Israel's foreign minister if an outline coalition deal with Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu goes into effect, a spokeswoman for Lieberman said on Monday. According to Reuters, Netanyahu's deal with the Yisrael Beitenu (Our House) Party, initialled by the parties late on Sunday, was his first step to forging a right-wing government.
The deal, still subject to possible pacts with other parties including centrists led by Tzipi Livni, would hand the foreign ministry to Lieberman, a Russian-speaking immigrant from former Soviet Moldova who in the past spoke against the rights of the Arab citizens in Israel.
His party would also have four other portfolios including internal security, said spokeswoman Irena Ettinger.
Lieberman's party polled the third largest number of seats, at 15, with Likud winning 27. Deputies of both parties initialled the deal during talks held on Sunday.
Yisrael Beiteinu has called for trading land where Israeli-Arab citizens live in exchange for Jewish settlements in the West Bank in any peace deal with Palestinians.
Lieberman, a settler, has also urged steps to ensure all Israelis, including Israeli-Arab citizens, were loyal to the Jewish state as a condition for retaining citizenship. Netanyahu faces an April 3 deadline to complete a government, after being given the task last month by President Shimon Peres.