Prime Minister Netanyahu had been in talks earlier this week for several days with Isaac Herzog’s center-left Zionist Union party, which has 24 Knesset Members, to agree on an alliance.
However, after talks collapsed, Netanyahu asked Lieberman, who served as Foreign Minister in a previous Netanyahu-led government, on Wednesday to join his coalition.
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s coalition currently holds a razor-thin majority of 61 Knesset seats, out of a total of 120.
Lieberman, whose party has six Knesset seats, has reportedly demanded the defence portfolio as well as new legislation that would impose capital punishment on Palestinians carrying out fatal terror attacks. Political sources have noted that while Netanyahu acquiesced to Lieberman’s demand to be appointed Defense Minister other issues remained unresolved and a deal has yet to be finalised.
Outgoing Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon formally announced his temporary resignation from politics today, departing from his post and from the Knesset.
Ya’alon, who is a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, warned that “extremist and dangerous” individuals were taking over the Likud party.
He said: “I have no intention of leaving public life, and in the future I will return as a candidate for national leadership”.
The outgoing Defence Minister said: “I worked with the Prime Minister harmoniously and respectfully, seriously and substantively, for a long time, and certainly during Operation Protective Edge, and for that I want to thank him. But to my great regret, I have found myself lately in deep disagreement over professional and ethical issues with the Prime Minister, a number of ministers and a few members of Knesset”.
Israel’s Knesset has 120 seats elected directly by voters. The current coalition that forms Israel’s government comprises just 61 MKs – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party (30 MKs), centre-right Kulanu party (10 MKs), right-wing religious Jewish Home party (8 MKs), ultra-Orthodox Sephardic party Shas (7 MKs), and ultra-Othodox Ashkenazi party United Torah Judaism (6 MKs).