Israel’s Labor leader denies allegation of post-election deal with Netanyahu

“It’s totally clear that Netanyahu has a deal with Amir Peretz,” claimed MK Avigdor Liberman.

By World Israel News Staff 

Labor Party leader MK Amir Peretz is vowing not to join a government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the September 17 Knesset election.

His pledge came in an interview with Kan public radio after MK Avigdor Liberman had accused Peretz, on the same radio station earlier on Thursday morning, of being in cahoots with the prime minister in working out a deal.

Liberman alleged that Labor would help Netanyahu form a governing majority in parliament after the election in exchange for the prime minister’s support for Peretz becoming the next president.

The presidency is a ceremonial position in Israel. President Reuven Rivlin’s term expires in 2021. The president is chosen in a vote by members of parliament.

Liberman’s refusal to join a Netanyahu government after April’s Knesset election prevented the incumbent premier from forming a new coalition. The Knesset then called the September election.

“It’s totally clear that Netanyahu has a deal with Amir Peretz,” said Liberman.

“Liberman’s ability to invent lies is known,” Peretz retorted in the later interview. “I am not a candidate for the position of president of the state. Period,” the Labor party leader added.

The once prominent Labor party, which ruled Israel for many years, is predicted, according to a Channel 12 News opinion poll, to receive only five seats in the upcoming election after already suffering its worst performance ever – just six seats in April.

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Peretz refused to join the new Democratic Camp left-wing bloc, stating that he believes that Labor could help itself by getting some of the center-right vote if it kept a distance from left-wing ideology.

However, his decision has led some to believe that he might consider a coalition with Netanyahu.

According to the Channel 12 survey, Liberman still holds the balance of power between right and left when the time comes to form the government. His Israel Beiteinu party is seen as winning 10 seats.

The 67-year-old Peretz already served as Labor Party chairman from 2005 to 2007, and defeated younger contenders to gain back the title a month ago.

He was known for many years as a union leader. He served as Defenseinister when Israel waged the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and is credited with making the decision to move ahead with the Iron Dome air defense system.

His resume is seen as one which could suit an Israeli president.