Judgment Day: After Yom Kippur, Liberman proposes path to unity government

However, a senior political source cited by Ynet says that even with Liberman’s proposal, “we are still closer to a third election.”

By World Israel News Staff 

With the conclusion of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, on Wednesday night, MK Avigdor Liberman – the leader of the Israel Beitenu party – announced a plan in which he proposes a way to resolve the crisis over the inability to form a new Israeli government.

However, a senior political source cited by Ynet says that even with Liberman’s proposal, “we are still closer to a third election.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a parliamentary government coalition after an April 9 election. Israelis were forced back to the polls on September 17. The results again showed a divided country, making it difficult for either leading parliamentary faction to garner a majority in the 120-member Knesset.

Liberman’s proposal calls upon the Likud to drop its demand that it negotiate with Blue and White as a large bloc that also includes its allies.

Liberman also asks Blue and White to accept a formula proposed by President Reuven Rivlin which would allow Netanyahu to continue to hold the title of prime minister even if he is indicted in one or more of three criminal investigations in which he is suspected, but to classify him as “incapacitated” and allow Gantz to serve as an acting premier.

Liberman’s party is calling his proposal “the only plan which could prevent an election.”

Gantz and his colleagues have argued that the talks must be conducted based on an equal standing of two factions of virtually the same size and not in a framework that makes Likud much larger and gives Netanyahu much more power.

Liberman’s party won eight seats in the September election. He had previously been considered a natural partner to join a Netanyahu government but refused to do so after the April election.

In the campaign leading up to the September vote, he stressed his opposition to joining forces with religious parties and called for a unity government.

However, the Likud and Blue and White were viewed on Thursday as remaining far apart in their negotiating positions, reports Ynet.

In a statement, the Likud said that it wanted a commitment from Liberman that he would not support an effort by Gantz to form a narrow governing majority in parliament that would have to be dependent upon the support of non-Zionist MKs.

Blue and White applauded Liberman’s call on the Likud to negotiate without its allied smaller parties and said that talks should first be conducted on setting policy guidelines for a unity government.

Blue and White, led by MK Benny Gantz, won 33 seats, followed by Netanyahu’s Likud, which claimed 32 seats in the September ballot.

Rivlin gave the mandate to the incumbent prime minister on September 25 to form a government as the Likud’s allied religious and right-wing parties bring him slightly closer to a majority than the parties supporting Gantz.

Rivlin has made clear his preference for a unity government.