Liberman doubles down, won’t sit with ultra-Orthodox, ‘messianics,’ Arabs

“The one and only commitment of ours is to our voters who voted for us and gave us their trust on September 17,” wrote Liberman on his Facebook account.

September 25, 2019 00:08
3 minute read.
Liberman doubles down, won’t sit with ultra-Orthodox, ‘messianics,’ Arabs

Heads of the Blue and White party, Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid. Avigdor Liberman, Head of rightist Yisrael Beiteinu party. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the weekly cabinet meeting, December 2, 2018. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman reiterated his opposition on Tuesday to sitting with the ultra-Orthodox and right-wing religious parties, as well as the Arab parties and the Democratic Union.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that any unity government between his Likud Party and Blue and White needs to include his ultra-Orthodox allies as well as the religious-Zionist Yamina Party.

In comments he made on Facebook Tuesday afternoon, Liberman doubled down on his commitment never to join such a coalition and insisted that the formation of a national unity government including Blue and White, Likud, and possibly his own, was an urgent need due to Israel’s security and economic challenges.

Liberman said he was responding to “spin” and “commentary” published of late regarding the possibility that Yisrael Beytenu might enter a government including the parties it has previously declared to be out of bounds.

He also insisted that his party was not “coordinating” with Blue and White or with Likud, as has been speculated, given his enigmatic decision not to recommend either Blue and White co-chairman Benny Gantz or Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form the next government.

“The one and only commitment of ours is to our voters who voted for us and gave us their trust on September 17,” wrote Liberman on his Facebook account on Tuesday.

“Therefore, all of our promises from before the elections are iron-clad commitments after the elections, too,” he continued, in reference to his promise to only join a national unity government of Blue and White together with the Likud, as well as his commitments on matters of religion and state.

“I hope for the establishment of a broad, liberal, national unity government,” he continued, noting that Blue and White and Likud did not need any other party to create such a coalition, adding that he believed, however, that Yisrael Beytenu should be part of such a government.

“But under no conditions and not for any reason will we sit with the ultra-Orthodox, the messianics, the Joint List [of Arab parties or] the Democratic Union,” wrote Liberman.

The Yisrael Beytenu leader added that he believed a vote on appointing a Knesset speaker should come only after, “the picture becomes clear regarding the formation of the coalition and the identity of the prime minister.”

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, a senior Yisrael Beytenu source said that he believed a national unity government would be established and that a third round of elections would be avoided, due to internal pressure on Netanyahu from within his own party.

The source noted that back in April, Netanyahu promised his party that backing a second election would see Likud increase their seats, and would not put at risk the seats the party had won.

As it turned out, the absorption of Kulanu into Likud pushed four other Likud candidates back down the list, while Likud’s loss of four seats in this month’s election means that eight Likud MKs lost their seats.

The Yisrael Beytenu source said that current Likud MKs would therefore be extremely wary of going to a third round of elections out of fear for their own Knesset seats.

The source added that Netanyahu’s “spell and magic” were wearing off from the Likud Party, especially the prime minister’s claim that only he can bring about diplomatic successes.

The official pointed to the fact that Russian leader Vladimir Putin had kept Netanyahu waiting for three hours when he visited him in Sochi, a tactic Putin is well known for with foreign leaders he is displeased with.

Comments by US President Donald Trump that the US relationship “is with Israel,” seemingly distancing himself somewhat from Netanyahu – as well as other missteps by the prime minister – are further evidence that Netanyahu is not infallible, the source argued.

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