Avigdor Liberman and Benjamin Netanyahu.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not try to expand his coalition by splitting up MK Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party, coalition chairman Tzachi Hanegbi said Thursday.
Netanyahu has struggled to implement his agenda with his narrow coalition of 61 MKs, but neither the Zionist Union, nor Yesh Atid nor Yisrael Beytenu has given any indication that they would join the government.
Likud officials have expressed hope the coalition could be expanded in an unconventional way – by trying to woo the two MKs from Yisrael Beytenu necessary to split the party. The officials said they were encouraged by former Likud activist Oded Forer entering the Knesset in place of Sharon Gal, who quit Wednesday.
If Forer and former Likud foreign minister David Levy’s daughter, MK Orly Levy-Abecassis, left Yisrael Beytenu for the Likud, there would be 63 MKs in the coalition, which could be much more stable.
But Hanegbi, who would be in charge of implementing such a risky move, ruled it out.
“We will not take any action in any way to split them,” Hanegbi told The Jerusalem Post
. “There would be no benefit to such a move. It would be stupid.”
A Panels Politics poll broadcast Thursday on the Knesset Channel asked respondents whether Gal’s departure would harm Yisrael Beytenu.
More than half, 52 percent, said it would have no impact whatsoever; 21% said it would harm the party; and 12% said his leaving would help.
Asked about Wednesday’s resignation of Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid’s No. 2, MK Shai Piron, 42% said it would have no impact whatsoever; 25% said it would harm the party; and 10% said his leaving would help.
When respondents who define themselves as right wing were asked who is the most fit to lead the Right, 36% said Netanyahu; 31% Bayit Yehudi said leader Naftali Bennett; 9% said Liberman; and 14% said none of the above.
Among Likud voters who responded to the poll, 72% said Netanyahu should lead the Likud; 12% said former minister Gideon Sa’ar; 3% said Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon or Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan; 1% said Interior Minister Silvan Shalom; and 4% said none of the above.
The poll of 500 respondents representing a sample of the Israeli population has a margin of error of +-4.5%.