Yisrael Beytenu leader MK Avigdor Liberman declared Tuesday night that his party would seek the interior and health ministries in the next government, two portfolios currently held by leaders of the ultra-Orthodox parties.
He took direct aim at current head of the health minister Deputy Health Minister and United Torah Judaism chairman Yaakov Litzman by describing Israel’s health system as “very sick” and said that the interior ministry must be wrested from the hands of current minister and Shas chairman Arye Deri to restore “normalcy” to matters of religion and state in the country.
Liberman also vowed not recommend any candidate to form a coalition after the next election if they do not promise to establish a national unity government without the ultra-Orthodox, Arab parties, and left wing and right wing parties.
Speaking at Yisrael Beytenu’s convention of central committee members in Tel Aviv, Liberman took fierce aim at the haredi political parties, in particular Deputy Health Minister and United Torah Judaism chairman Yaakov Litzman promising to replace him with a respected professor of medicine.
He also promised to cut child subsidy payments for a fifth child and upwards, saying that large proportions of the ultra-Orthodox and Arab population do not work because child subsidies make it too financially viable not to seek employment.
“The occupation of the ultra-Orthodox and Arabs is basically to have children and for their children to have more children, and it is bringing us to the point of collapse,” said Liberman.
The Yisrael Beytenu chairman made sweeping promises about what his party would demand in the coming government, including a a raft of measures “to restore Israel to normalcy” on matters of religion and state.
Liberman said that after the elections he would demand the interior ministry for Yisrael Beytenu so as to dismantle local religious councils which currently provide religious services such as marriage registration, kashrut supervision and many others, and replace them with a department for religious services in local government authorities instead.
He also said that obtaining the interior ministry was crucial to allowing local municipal authorities the right to decide if they want more grocery stores and other commercial activities available in their jurisdictions and vowed to overturn the so called “mini-mart law” advocated by the haredi parties which stops local authorities from making such a decision.
And Liberman said he would demand his party get the health ministry and would appoint Prof. Leonid Eidelman, currently president of the World Medical Association as minister, saying Israel’s health system needed “a professional” to deal with its challenges.
Liberman’s comments seemed designed to provoke Litzman who is fiercely defensive of his record as minister and has spoken proudly of his achievements there.
In promises which will further antagonize the ultra-Orthodox parties, the Yisrael Beytenu chairman promised he would demand that haredi schools teach core curriculum subjects such as English and Maths, as part of his conditions of entering a new government.
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