Liberman: Ready to negotiate without preconditions

In the same interview, he said he would negotiate only with Likud and not the other members of its 55-member right-wing and religious bloc.

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September 26, 2019 11:28
2 minute read.
Yisrael Beytenu leader MK Avigdor Liberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Yisrael Beytenu leader MK Avigdor Liberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

In a stunning turnaround, Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman said on Thursday morning that he was ready for his Yisrael Beytenu party to negotiate with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud "without preconditions."

Speaking on KAN Radio Reka to Ma'ariv diplomatic correspondent Anna Ravya-Barsky, Liberman said: "There are no preconditions. If the Likud will make an official overture to us, we are prepared to negotiate with them."

Liberman's associates were quick to downplay his statement, noting that in the same interview, he said he would negotiate only with Likud and not the other members of its 55-member right-wing and religious bloc. His spokeswoman said the party's refusal to sit in a coalition with United Torah Judaism, Shas and most of Yamina had not changed.

Yisrael Beytenu MKs added in other radio interviews that a narrow right-wing government was unacceptable and that only a secular coalition of Likud, Blue and White and Yisrael Beytenu would work.

But Liberman's statement still gave hope to Likud officials, who said Yisrael Beyteynu would be formally invited to negotiate soon. They noted that the party's eight MKs along with the right bloc's 55 could form a very stable government.

Pressure also increased on Labor-Gesher leader Amir Peretz to negotiate with Likud. The head of Labor in the Histadrut Labor Federation Pini Kabalo, who is on Labor's executive Committee, called on Peretz to be more flexible.

"Amir should negotiate so we can get a hand on the wheel," Kabalo said. "I know I could anger some of our members but it's permitted to disagree. That is why we have political institutions that authorize entering a government.

But Peretz, whose party has six MKs, reiterated on Twitter on Thursday morning that he would not negotiate with Likud. He said Netanyahu needed to internalize that the message of the election was that the public wants Netanyahu replaced.  

Yamina MK Naftali Bennett accused Blue and White MK Yair Lapid of preventing a unity government from being formed. Bennett referred to a proposal by President Reuven Rivlin to allow Netanyahu to suspend himself from the premiership if he is indicted and let Gantz to take over until Netanyahu would be cleared of charges.

"Yair Lapid is forcing Benny Gantz to jump off a cliff into a National chasm of a third election in a year," Bennett tweeted. "President Rivlin's unity compromise was surprisingly creative. Good sense has come back. Netanyahu agreed to it. Gantz wants it. The public prays for it. Lapid screamed no. Gantz, take charge."



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