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March 16, 2009

Slow Down Lieberman is Not Foreign Minister Yet
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg

There has been a fair bit of reporting in the U.S. press today saying that Avigador Liberman has agreed to be the Foreign Minister of Israel as part of a deal to join Netanyahu's right wing coalition in Israel.  That does not appear to be fully accurate as Haaretz reports:

Enlisting his first coalition partner as prime minister-designate, Netanyahu signed up Yisrael Beitenu, a widely expected move that left the right-wing Likud party leader still short of a governing majority in parliament.

The agreement stated that Likud and Yisrael Beitenu favored the creation of a wide coalition, leaving the door open for centrists to join, and raised the possibility that someone else may become foreign minister if other parties join the coalition.

Likud officials have said a "unity government" including the middle-of-the-road Kadima party led by current Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni could help avoid friction with U.S. President Barack Obama, who has pledged to pursue Palestinian statehood.

Addressing Kadima legislators after the Netanyahu-Lieberman deal was announced, Livni reaffirmed one of her party's main conditions for joining a broad coalition: the continuation of land-for-peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

Livni does not appear to be backing down from her demands and there is reasonably high likelihood that Lieberman will in fact be the Foreign Minister.  But it's premature to call this a done deal.


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