Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara Netanyahu, at the Jerusalem Theater.
(photo credit: CHAIM TZACH/GPO)
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of preparing the ground for a minority government after the next elections, supported by at least some of the Arab parties from outside the coalition.
His claim followed reports saying that before the Knesset was dispersed after the recent failure to form a new government, contacts were made between Likud and the Ra’am Party, whereby Likud would fund various projects in the Arab sector and support certain legislation in return for Ra’am voting in favor of the establishment of a minority government.
Speaking at the Yisrael Beytenu Party faction meeting in the Knesset on Monday, Liberman said that two recent op-ed articles by Netanyahu confidant Natan Eshel in Haaretz and Makor Rishon, in which he proposed a “covenant” between Likud and the Arab parties, was further evidence of Netanyahu’s intent to form a minority government with the backing of Arab parties.
“This should serve as a red warning light for right-wing voters. Anyone who knows how these things work knows that it is clear these kinds of articles cannot be published without the knowledge of the prime minister,” alleged Liberman.
“Natan Eshel would not publicize two articles in two different newspapers of his own volition about an ‘obligatory covenant’ between Likud and the Arab parties. It is clear that this was a trial balloon, and an attempt to prepare the next step to build a minority government with the support of the Arab parties from outside [the government],” he continued.
“Even though we’ve heard from the prime minister about Arabs flocking to the polling stations on buses, in this instance the prime minister is flocking toward the Arab parties and will cost the taxpayer a lot of money.”
Liberman was referring to Netanyahu’s infamous comment on Election Day in 2015 that Arab voters were “flocking to the polling booths in droves.”
The Yisrael Beytenu leader asserted that promises made to Ra’am or other Arab parties would be exceedingly expensive to the public coffers, and would come “at the expense of the public which serves in the army, does reserve duty, goes to work and pays taxes.”
A Likud spokesman said in response that Liberman’s claims were “fake news which is disconnected from reality,” and insisted that “there never was and never will be” cooperation between the Likud and the Arab parties.
On Sunday, Army Radio reported that Ra’am, which ran in the last election together with the Balad Party, had agreed to provide Likud with a “safety net” in return for Likud advancing economic development and investment in the Arab sector, the recognition of two illegal Arab villages and the advancement of other concerns for the Arab community.
On Monday, Likud MK Miki Zohar said that: “The prime minister could have established a government with covert support from the Arab parties,” adding that “they [the Arab parties] would have been happy to allow it if we would have met their demands.”
Zohar said, however, that Netanyahu had ultimately rejected the proposal, saying he was not willing to establish a government which relied on the Arab parties.
“The prime minister rejected this [offer] out of hand,” Zohar said. “He was only willing to establish a government with the support of the Jewish Zionist parties. If he wasn’t willing to do this thing now, it is clear that he won’t do it in the future.”
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