Netanyahu seeks to allay fears of his govt taking hardline stance on Palestine
Netanyahu was expected to soon conclude negotiations with the Yisrael Beitenu party led by Avigdor Lieberman, a far- right politician detested by the Palestinians.
Lieberman would take on the key role of defence minister under the deal being negotiated and expand Netanyahu’s current majority of 61 seats in the 120 seat parliament to 66.
The move would tilt further to the right Netanyahu’s government, which is already among the most right-wing in Israel’s history. “I want it to be clear that an expanded government will continue to aspire to a political process with the Palestinians and will do it with help from parts of the region,” Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.
Adding Lieberman’s party to his coalition would bring weeks of political manoeuvring to a stunning conclusion.
Netanyahu had earlier engaged in negotiations with Labour party leader Isaac Herzog to join the government before turning to Lieberman instead. Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon, from Netanyahu’s Likud party, resigned from the government on Friday, harshly criticising the premier in the process.