Member of Knesset Avigdor Liberman, leader of the Yisrael Beyteinu party, has accepted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer to join his government and become the new defense minister, Israeli media reported on Wednesday evening.
Liberman is set to replace the current defense minister, Moshe Ya’alon, who was reportedly notified of Netanyahu’s offer in advance.
Liberman and Netanyahu met privately on Wednesday afternoon for over an hour at the prime minister’s office. During the meeting, reports indicate, Netanyahu offered Liberman the Defense Ministry portfolio as well as the portfolio for the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption (Aliyah).
“The meeting was conducted in good spirits, and at the end it was decided to establish negotiating teams,” said the official statement from Likud, Netanyahu’s party, immediately after the private meeting.
Shortly afterward, Israeli news outlets all over the country began reporting that sources from Liberman’s circle revealed that he had accepted the prime minister’s offer and will become the next defense minister as early as next week.
Ya’alon will most likely be appointed foreign minister – a position still vacant – as compensation for being ousted from office by Netanyahu in order to facilitate Yisrael Beyteinu’s joining the coalition, sources say.
Ya’alon recently butted heads with Netanyahu and several other members of the government over freedom of expression for IDF generals.
By: Michael Zeff, TPS