Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced his plans to break up the Likud-Beiteinu partnership after escalating disputes with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Jerusalem Post reports. The partnership, which was formed in 2012, combined Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu’s 11 Knesset seats with Netanyahu’s Likud’s 20 seats, making the super party the largest in the Knesset. The split would leave Likud with 20 seats, just one more than Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the split is largely due to Lieberman and Netanyahu’s differing opinions, most recently over how to deal with Hamas—tensions which have been heightened significantly since the Hamas kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens and subsequent murder of a Palestinian teen, for which six Jewish extremists have been arrested.
Liberman stressed that the move was not intended to harm Netanyahu or bring about early elections. He said the newly independent Yisrael Beytenu faction would not take any disciplinary steps against the coalition, such as MKs absenting themselves from no-confidence motions.
“The coalition will continue because there’s no better alternative and because the next election won’t change the makeup of the Knesset and its blocs,” Liberman said. “We don’t want to weaken the government or advance the election. But we do expect changes in the fight against terror.”
Stephanie Butnick is deputy editor of Tablet Magazine and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.