Foreign Minister and Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman has decided to end his merger with the Likud party. Liberman told media he will announce the decision formally at a news conference Monday afternoon. The decision comes against the backdrop of a fierce disagreement over how to deal with the escalating rocket, mortar and missile attacks from Gaza.
The party is leaving a merger of the two parties — the ‘Likud Beytenu’ party — that was formed in order to win the last election, when both parties were convinced that neither had enough support to otherwise gain a majority in the Knesset. The split leaves Likud with 20 seats in the Knesset, and Yisrael Beytenu with 11 mandates.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, chairman of the Likud party, held open the foreign minister’s position for him for months as he faced trial on charges of corruption, refusing to replace Liberman until a verdict was reached.
Liberman’s move leaves each party with the ability to form new alliances, and could present the Likud with a chance to strengthen the government.
However, the situation also might fracture the coalition at a time when the country most needs the government to present a unified stance in the face of Arab hostilities from without and within.