“The government is looking for peace. There are diplomatic opportunities because of certain regional developments that I personally work all the time to attain,” said Netanyahu, in an apparent effort to preempt criticism over what has been branded the most right-wing government in Israel’s history.
“This is why I made a great effort to have Zionist Union join the government. And therefore I leave the door open, in the most serious manner, for such a move, which can only do good for the State of Israel,” he said at the end of a statement expressing regret at Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s resignation, triggered by Netanyahu’s decision to replace him with Yisrael Beytenu leader #Avigdor Liberman.
Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog held weeks of intense coalition talks with Netanyahu, which ended as the prime minister began talks with Liberman to bring his party into the coalition.
Netanyahu, who is heading a narrow 61-MK coalition, denied the portfolio reshuffle that triggered Ya’alon’s departure was down to a crisis of confidence between the two, but said it stemmed, rather, from the need to expand the government “in order to bring stability to the State of Israel in light of the great challenges it faces.”