Monday, November 16, 2009

Coalition Crisis: Angry Lieberman threatens not to support Coalition; calls reporters: 'Liars, scoundrels and idiots'

( Binyamin Netanyahu's coalition experienced its first crisis Monday when Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called a press conference and announced that the Israel Our Home faction would no longer support the government in any Knesset votes, including no-confidence votes.

"The straw that broke the camel's back,” Lieberman said, “was when I found out that out of the cut [in the government budget] that was approved, they took out the cut in the yeshiva funding while they are cutting the Aliyah [funding].”

"Yesterday I informed Netanyahu's bureau chief, Natan Eshel, that if we do not receive a positive answer about Aliyah budgets we will not participate in any vote.”

The foreign minister told reporters that he is not against funding for any sector but “if there is money for the hareidis there will also be money for immigrants. It is inconceivable that a party with six Knesset seats issues an ultimatum and the government retreats, and a party with 15 Knesset seats demands one third of that amount.

An angry Lieberman denied media analysis that said that his move was revenge for Prime Minister Netanyahu's position on the splitting of the Attorney General's post. “There is no shortage of liars, scoundrels and idiots here,” he said. When asked by reporters whether he meant parliamentarians or reporters, he said he was mostly talking about reporters, but also in the parliament. “It's the entire spectrum,” he said, “from [Maariv reporter] Shalom Yerushalmi to [Labor MK] Shelly Yechimovich.”

The Prime Minister's Office announced on Monday that Netanyahu met with Lieberman regarding his demands for funding for the Ministry for Immigration and Absorption. The two are scheduled to meet on Tuesday in an effort to reach a solution by next Monday. Lieberman said at the press conference that hopes to solve the problem "very soon."