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Lieberman, Netanyahu meet to iron out differences

JTA

July 20, 2010 | 9:07 am

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met to hash out their differences.

“The meeting was conducted in a positive spirit, in an effort to strengthen cooperation on all matters,” read a statement issued from the Prime Minister’s Office following the two-hour meeting, which ended late Monday evening.

The leaders reportedly discussed disagreements about allocations to Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu ministers’ departments as part of the biennial budget and the controversial conversion bill sponsored by Lieberman’s party.

No details about the meeting were released.

During a news conference Monday prior to the meeting, Lieberman said Yisrael Beiteinu will not leave the government, despite several disagreements.

Lieberman criticized Netanyahu for not having more consideration for a major coalition partner. With 15 seats, Yisrael Beiteinu is the second largest party in Netanyahu’s coalition.

The downward spiral in relations between the two leaders began with Netanyahu’s decision to send Minister of Trade, Industry and Labor Benjamin Ben-Eliezer to Turkey for a meeting with its foreign minister, and continued in recent days with the state budget, the appointment of an interim United Nations envoy and the conversion measure proposed by Lieberman’s party to fulfill an election promise to its supporters.

“We won’t quit the government, but we also have no intention of surrendering,” Lieberman told reporters.

“The party that most supports the government should not be the last considered in regards to the budget,” he said, referring to cuts in the departments headed by Yisrael Beiteinu ministers.

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