Avigdor Liberman, Yisrael Beytenu

Who is Avigdor Liberman?

Avigdor Liberman (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THEO FREUD)
Avigdor Liberman
Israel Elections 2019: Everything you need to know
  • Current MKs 5
  • Poll Position: 9-10
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman is the individual most responsible for the new elections, after he refused any changes or compromises whatsoever to the bill for increasing ultra-Orthodox enlistment to the IDF during the coalition negotiations after the April election.
Since that time he has made his opposition to policies advanced by the ultra-Orthodox and religious-Zionist parties his banner issue, and has made a series of promises on religion and state issues.
Additionally, he has attacked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from the right, and has made policy promises on attacking Gaza, ending the transfer of Qatari money to Hamas, and, once again, passing a law mandating the death penalty for convicted terrorists.
On religion and state issues, Liberman has promised to advance legislation drafted by the defense ministry to increase ultra-Orthodox enlistment to the IDF without any of the changes demanded by the ultra-Orthodox parties.
He has also said he will demand that all haredi schools teach core curriculum subjects such as English and Maths, an issue which is as combustible for the ultra-Orthodox, if not more so, as military enlistment. 
The Yisrael Beytenu chair has also promised to advance civil marriage in Israel and to abolish the local religious councils which currently provide religious services and replace them with a department for religious services in local government authorities instead.
Liberman’s refusal to compromise on the ultra-Orthodox enlistment bill during the last coalition negotiations was widely seen as an excuse to re-energize his party and its electoral strength after obtaining a lowly five seat return in the last elections.
His declaration that he will only enter a national unity government with Blue and White and Likud is also seen as an effort to oust Netanyahu from the premiership, given that Blue and White leader Benny Gantz has said he will not sit with Netanyahu in government, although Gantz has contradicted himself several times on this commitment.