Netanyahu blasts Liberman: ‘He’s now part of the left’

Liberman never intended to join the government, Netanyahu charged after failing to reach a coalition agreement.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted Avigdor Liberman, laying the the blame for the Likud’s failure to form a government on the Israel Beiteinu leader after Wednesday night’s vote to dissolve the Knesset forcing Israel to hold new elections.

He said that Liberman vetoed proposal after proposal to bridge the demands of Liberman and the haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, parties over a military conscription law.

Only one conclusion can be be drawn from this, said the prime minister, “He wanted, in the clearest way, to bring down the government.”

Netanyahu, in what might be the start of a campaign to woo Liberman’s largely conservative, secular Russian immigrant voters, said.

“Avigdor Liberman is now part of the left. You give him votes for the right and he doesn’t vote for a right-wing government. He brings down right-wing governments,” Netanyahu said.

Liberman quit the previous administration in November, leaving it with an unstable 61-seat majority. Voters shouldn’t believe Liberman again, Netanyahu added.

Minister of Tourism Yariv Lavin, who headed the coalition negotiations on behalf of the Likud, told Ynet on Thursday that Liberman had simply decided that he wasn’t interested in entering the government with only five seats.

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“So he set a condition that was clearly impossible,” Lavin explained, calling the former defense minister’s intransigence over the Draft Law comparable to demanding that the ultra-Orthodox MKs eat lunch with him in an unkosher restaurant to enable him to join the coalition.

Lavin also revealed in a radio interview other ridiculous demands that Liberman had made during the negotiations.

“Israel Beiteinu wanted to get three ministers and five ministries,” he charged. “There were requests to turn the absorption ministry into a small foreign ministry with 15 emissaries all over the world. The demands were absurd.”

Liberman’s party reacted sharply to the accusation of political blackmailing.

“Lavin has to enter the Guinness Book of World Records as the ultimate liar in the history of coalition negotiations in the State of Israel,” it said in a statement.