The path to the next election began in New York on Sunday at the third Jerusalem Post Annual Conference, where Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman became the first high-profile figure in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition to openly suggest initiating new elections, MKs said.
Liberman said in an interview at the conference with Jerusalem Post editor Steve Linde that he would rather have new elections than change the coalition or return to the deal by which Israel would release Palestinian terrorists in order to continue American-brokered diplomatic negotiations.
The Yisrael Beytenu leader said he opposed a plan by ministers in Likud and Bayit Yehudi to try to replace Yesh Atid and Hatnua with Labor and haredi parties.
Netanyahu told Likud ministers Sunday that there were initiatives on the Left to try to replace him and form a leftwing coalition without Likud Beytenu.
Hatnua MK Amram Mitzna told Channel 2 he saw no reason for his party to remain in the government. But Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, head of Hatnua, made a point of not responding to Liberman’s comments, as did officials in the Prime Minister’s Office.
Labor Party and opposition leader Isaac Herzog responded to Liberman by saying the government had failed in every possible aspect, so elections were not a threat but a hope.
Speaking at an event in Tel Aviv, Herzog said the foreign minister had taken off his mask and returned to his old self, so Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Livni should reach the required conclusion and leave the coalition.
Meretz leader Zehava Gal- On said Liberman had “revealed the true face of the Israeli government,” adding that “maybe it really would be worth going to elections and getting rid of this bad government.”
Speaking in New York at the Post Conference, Labor MK Nachman Shai said an election would give the public a chance to choose between international isolation and two states for two peoples.
Also at the conference, Labor MK Omer Bar-Lev said that “if the government truly had courage, it would really go to early elections.”