Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman in the Knesset on May 29.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman clarified his party’s demands for joining the next coalition, vowing that he will only join a national unity government following the September 17 election.
Liberman said on Saturday that a “national emergency government” consisting of Likud, Blue and White and Yisrael Beytenu was needed, but without the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties and the far-right Otzma Yehudit.
He clarified this on Thursday in an interview with Army Radio, saying that he would not join a narrow government. His statement means that even if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the center-right block win 61 seats, Liberman will not bring his party into the coalition.
“We will only sit in a national unity government,” Liberman said. “We will ask both large parties to promise to build a wide government. If we don’t receive that commitment from either of them, we will not recommend anyone” to President Reuven Rivlin, he said.
Liberman then invoked his banner issue, accusing Netanyahu of having continually “surrendered to the demands of the ultra-Orthodox parties,” while adding that Blue and White leaders Benny Gantz and Moshe Ya’alon have also been groveling to them.
“Netanyahu wants a government led by Jewish Law,” Liberman said, saying that Yisrael Beytenu’s fight over the haredi enlistment law was now a symbolic battle to stop the encroachment of Jewish law into public life.
“The enlistment law has become a symbol, after the closing of grocery stores on Shabbat, and the Gesher Yehudit [pedestrian footbridge across the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv] and the Phoenicia [glass factory],” he continued.
Liberman was referring to a law passed by the last government allowing the Interior Ministry to block municipalities from permitting increased commerce on Shabbat; the haredi political parties’ fight to stop construction on Shabbat on the Gesher Yehudit footbridge; and some haredi communities boycotted the Phoenicia Glass Works bottle factory.
“That Netanyahu decided to capitulate to the haredim and was ready to pay a price and go to elections, this is something he really needs to be asked about,” demanded Liberman. “Why does he always capitulate to the haredim?”
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