Netanyahu era appears over as Liberman backs Gantz

Liberman threw his support behind Benny Gantz, giving the opposition leader the necessary majority.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

In a decision that rocks Israel’s political landscape, Avigdor Liberman of the Israel Beiteinu party recommended Blue and White leader Benny Gantz for the premiership in a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday afternoon.

Liberman’s support gives Blue and White a majority of 61 seats in the 120-member Knesset, triggering automatic approval from Rivlin. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition have only 58 Knesset seats.

“We recommend Benny Gantz for a very, very simple reason,” Liberman said. “To prevent a fourth election.”

The Israel Beiteinu leader said he would have preferred a unity government between the two largest parties, Blue and White and Likud, leading to a more stable government.

The decision may very well spell the end of Netanyahu’s run as prime minister.

On Friday, Blue and White already moved forward with its plan to replace Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein, a step toward passing legislation that would prevent a Knesset member facing indictment from serving as prime minister. If passed, the law would block Netanyahu from the premiership. Netanyahu has been indicted for corruption in three separate cases.

On Saturday evening, Netanyahu proposed an emergency interim government of six months in order to deal with the health crisis surrounding the coronavirus.

Read  Did Biden green-light arrest warrants for Israeli leaders?

This was swiftly rejected by Blue and White on Sunday.

Party leader Benny Gantz tweeted on Sunday, “Someone who wants unity does not postpone their trial at 1 A.M.”

Gantz referred to the decision taken overnight on Saturday by Likud member and Justice Minister Amir Ohana to declare a state of emergency in the judiciary on account of the health scare, leading to the postponement of Netanyahu’s trial in three corruption cases from March 17 to May 24.

Israel Beiteinu party chairman Avigdor Liberman suggested Netanyahu’s proposal was nothing but a trick.

“The conclusion is that Netanyahu wants to go in to new elections in six to eight months on the wings of a corona victory,” Liberman said.

Following the meeting with Liberman, Rivlin invited Netanyanu and Gantz for an “urgent conversation” Sunday evening, regarding the possibility of immediately establishing a government.