Liberman says ‘doesn’t rule out’ demanding PM rotation deal

Labor leader Amir Peretz accuses Yisrael Beytenu leader of conspiracy with Netanyahu, Liberman repeats commitment to national unity government.

August 4, 2019 03:09
2 minute read.
Avigdor Liberman, chairman of Yisrael Beytenu in conversation with the Jerusalem Post

Avigdor Liberman, chairman of Yisrael Beytenu in conversation with the Jerusalem Post. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman said over Shabbat that he was “not ruling out” demanding a rotation deal for prime minister after the September 17 election.

Speaking at a Shabbat Culture event, Liberman was pressed by the host Amalya Duek of Channel 12 News whether he would seek a rotation agreement whereby he would share the premiership with the head of another party as part of Yisrael Beytenu’s price of joining the government.

“For some people being prime minister is an obsession. With me it’s just an option. I don’t have an obsession,” he said in a clear jibe at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Duek challenged him saying, “If you have enough power, you could demand a rotation [agreement]” to which Liberman responded: “We need to win the election first.”

Asked again, “But you don’t rule out a rotation?” Liberman conceded, “I don’t rule it out. We try and be realistic, and I’m trying first of all to get enough seats.”

The Yisrael Beytenu leader’s words were seized upon by some as evidence of his supposed double-dealing, with Labor leader Amir Peretz claiming that Liberman meant he does not rule out a rotation agreement with Netanyahu in a narrow, right-wing government and does not plan to form a national unity government as he has said on numerous occasions.

The Labor leader had already claimed that the new election was the result of a conspiracy between Liberman and Netanyahu to obtain secular votes from the left-wing bloc in order to strengthen the right wing.

“Everything is a smokescreen. Liberman has done a deal a deal with Bibi [Netanyahu] on this matter. If they succeed it will become the sting of the century for Israeli politics,” Peretz said in response to Liberman’s comments.

The former defense minister took to Facebook to defend his comments, restating his oft-repeated mantra of this campaign that he would only join a national unity government.

“Yisrael Beytenu will only join a broad, nationalist-liberal government consisting of Yisrael Beytenu, the Likud, and Blue and White,” wrote Liberman.

“No other option exists! Not in return for an [ultra-Orthodox military service] enlistment law, not for budgets, and not for a rotation [agreement].”
Following the submission of the final electoral lists on Thursday by the various parties, the latest polls continued to predict that neither the bloc composed of the right-wing, religious and haredi parties nor the center and left-wing bloc will have a majority after the election.

A poll for Channel 12 published Saturday night gave Likud 30 seats, Blue and White 29, United Right 12, the Joint List of Arab parties 11, Yisrael Beytenu 10, United Torah Judaism 8, Shas 7, the Democratic Union 7, and Labor-Gesher 6. 

Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut party and the far-right Otzma Yehudit party would not pass the electoral threshold of 3.25% of the vote.

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