After Tense Standoff, Netanyahu Picks Right-Wing Beiteinu Party Over Left-Wing Labor for Gov’t Coalition

“Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all ye that wait for the LORD.” Psalms 31:25 (The Israel Bible™)

Avigdor Lieberman and his right-leaning political party Yisrael Beiteinu will tentatively join Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition, with Lieberman becoming defense minister.

Lieberman, Israel’s former foreign minister, accepted the position after Netanyahu offered it Wednesday as part of the revamping of the Likud party-led coalition. He will replace current Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.

“This will be closed on within 24 hours. The chances that Lieberman will join [the coalition] are very high. It’s nearly finished,” senior officials involved in the negotiations said Wednesday, according to Yedioth Ahronoth.

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Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog, leader of the center-left Zionist Union party, said after the news broke on Lieberman that “Israeli citizens will now have to deal with a government whose policies are borderline crazy.” Before Lieberman’s appointment, the Zionist Union itself had been under consideration to form a unity government with the Likud-led coalition.

On Tuesday, Lieberman had said that his party has “no intention of whitewashing the Labor party’s entry into the government. We’re the true national camp. We have clear positions, primarily in the fields of security, immigration and absorption. If those issues are indeed on the table, and they’re willing to talk to us—not just over the defense portfolio but also defense policy, death sentence, pension reforms—I don’t see why not have these talks directly, instead of in the dead of night and through mediators and leaks to the press.”