Ultranationalist Will Be Israel's Foreign Minister

Coalition deal to make Avigdor Lieberman country's top diplomat
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 16, 2009 6:36 AM CDT
Israeli ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party leader Avigdor Lieberman takes the oath of an Israeli Knesset Member during a swearing-in ceremony at the Knesset in Jerusalem Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2009.   (AP Photo/Jim Hollander, Pool)
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(Newser) – Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister-designate of Israel, signed a deal last night that will see hard-right politician Avigdor Lieberman become the country's foreign minister. As Haaretz reports, Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party will receive several other major portfolios in the new government, including internal security. Lieberman advocates forcing Arab Israelis to sign loyalty oaths or leave the country; critics accuse him of anti-Arab racism.

Sources close to the PM-designate say he wants to finalize the composition of his government within a week. Netanyahu is still trying to persuade Tzipi Livni, who narrowly outpolled him in a come-from-behind finish in February's election, to join together in a national unity government. But Livni has refused on the grounds that she cannot join any government that doesn't support a two-state solution with the Palestinians.