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Liberman to wage fiercely secular campaign despite deep ultra-Orthodox ties

Despite rebranding himself as a champion against religious coercion in Israel, Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Liberman has a history of cooperation with the ultra-Orthodox.
Israel's former Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman speaks during his Yisrael Beitenu party faction meeting at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem May 27, 2019. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun - RC1DB06EC130
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After the April 9 elections, Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Liberman conditioned joining a Netanyahu government on the adoption of a law on drafting ultra-Orthodox. Faced with opposition from his ultra-Orthodox allies, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to compose a majority coalition and was forced to call for dismissing the Knesset and holding new elections.

In a May 30 statement, a day after the Knesset voted to disband, Netanyahu ridiculed Liberman for “suddenly” adopting a tough stance against the ultra-Orthodox parties. “Which Liberman, our Liberman?” Netanyahu asked sarcastically. “He has been making deals with the ultra-Orthodox for 20 years.” He elaborated, “In 2009, Liberman supported the position of Shas advocating an increase in child allowances. In 2012, Liberman supported all the Shas appointments of municipal rabbis. In 2013, Liberman made a deal with Shas over their candidate for chief rabbi. In 2018, he sealed a deal with Shas and Yahadut HaTorah to prevent the secular candidate Ofer Berkowitch from being elected mayor of Jerusalem.”

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