Liberman said he would force a unity government after the next elections.
By David Isaac, World Israel News
Avigdor Liberman, leader of the Israel Beiteinu party, announced on Saturday his intention to force a unity government between the two biggest parties, Likud and Blue and White, following the September elections.
In an interview with Channel 13, Liberman said, “We will force a government with Likud and with Blue and White, and that will be an emergency government, a national-liberal government.”
Notably missing from the unity government will be the haredim, or ultra-Orthodox. “We will do everything to prevent a haredi government,” Liberman said
In May, Liberman prevented the formation of a government with his refusal to compromise over a military recruitment law for the ultra-Orthodox. Young ultra-Orthodox Jewish men who study in seminary receive deferments from the Israeli Army. The rule dates back to the founding of the state, only the numbers involved have grown from 400 to over 60,000, generating hostility among the wider Israeli public who must serve in the military.
The Likud, which has been painting Liberman as “left-wing” ever since he wrecked the coalition, responded by saying: “The cat is out of the bag. Liberman said explicitly that he’s prepared to go with Lapid and Gantz and to force a left-wing government. Whoever wants a right-wing government has to vote Likud.” Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz are two of the leaders of the Blue and White party.
Liberman reacted to the Likud attack on Facebook, criticizing Netanyahu for claiming to be a “man of the right” when he still hadn’t evacuated the illegal Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, prevented a bill concerning the death penalty for terrorists from moving forward and which Liberman had sponsored, and paid $30 million in “protection” money to Hamas.
Likud, as well as other right-wing parties, have made no secret of their desire to do everything in their power to push Liberman’s party below the electoral threshold and out of the Knesset in September. This may be challenging to do. Liberman’s strategy of playing on secular fears of religious interference in all walks of life appears to be paying off. Polls show him gaining three to four more seats in September (he currently has five).
One of the leaders of Blue and White, Moshe Ya’alon, responded positively to Liberman’s comments, describing a unity government as “the correct path.” Though he said that unity could only come once Netanyahu was out of the picture. “Gantz should lead Blue and White and the Likud without Netanyahu, and it’s a shame that Liberman did not reach this conclusion before his party voted for the Knesset to dissolve,” Ya’alon said.
“Netanyahu has become the main problem. For two years now that all the interests of the State of Israel have been enslaved to his fear of justice. He must do what he preached to [Former PM Ehud] Olmert even before he was charged – to resign,” Ya’alon said. In March 2015, Olmert was convicted in Jerusalem District Court of fraud, breach of trust, and tax evasion.
Netanyahu also faces corruption charges.