Liberman says 'no fourth election,' remains kingmaker by slim margin

For two elections running, neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor Blue and White Party head Benny Gantz were able to form a government without the Yisrael Beytenu leader.

Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman and his wife Ella cast their vote in Nokdim (photo credit: Courtesy)
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman and his wife Ella cast their vote in Nokdim
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman held on to his elevated role as kingmaker of the next government by a very slim margin, based on exit polls released immediately upon the closure of voting stations at 10 p.m. on Monday.
“There won't be a fourth election,” Liberman said after viewing the results. But he didn’t say anything else conclusive, noting that the results were still very initial and that each mandate would make a significant difference as the night and days wore on.
He later tweeted: "We will not join any government led by [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu that includes Shas and United Torah Judaism."
In talking to his supporters after the initial exit poll results were published, Liberman explained that it was still to early to tell what the final tally was.
“There is no choice but to wait for the real results and only then to make an assessment,” he said.
Channels 11 and 12 gave Liberman six seats, which would be a two-seat loss compared to the eight Yisrael Beytenu received in September 2019. But it is still an increase of one from the five seats he received that April.
Channel 13, however, had Liberman holding on to his eight seats. For two elections running, neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor Blue and White head Benny Gantz were able to form a government without the Yisrael Beytenu leader. He insisted he would only support a liberal, Zionist government without the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties of Shas and United Torah Judaism, preferring instead a liberal, Zionist, secular government made up of Blue and White and Likud. But he was unable to sway Netanyahu and Gantz to form such a government.
During this third election, Liberman failed to galvanize additional voters to the cause of ensuring a secular Israel. But in spite of the initial elation at the Likud’s success, the 60-seat right-wing bloc Netanyahu garnered based on the exit polls, put into pragmatic terms, is precisely the same bloc he achieved in the April 2019 election – and he was never able to bring it up to being a 61-seat Knesset majority.
Liberman told his supporters that Yisrael Beytenu was a party which would not betray its principles. “We are not intending to move one millimeter from what we promised the voters," Liberman said.
“With regard to the 60 mandate results, we saw the same results in April 2019, when the messianic ultra-religious bloc was also at 60,” he said.
During Election Day on Monday, he made one last-ditch attempt to get out the vote. He began his day by voting in his home settlement of Nokdim with his wife, Ella, posing for a photo that showed the pair putting envelopes into the large blue ballot box.
He delivered a brief, curt message to the media.
“I call on the silent majority to go out and vote. This evening will be determinative between a state based on Jewish religious law and a strong Yisrael Beytenu. Everything is dependent on you,” Liberman said.
He expanded on this in a Facebook post.
“Twice we prevented the creation of a government based on ultra-religious law. Those [of us] who want public transportation on Shabbat, those who want open businesses on Shabbat, those who want civil marriage should vote for Yisrael Beytenu,” he said.
Even as Likud was already stating they were close to a 61-seat-bloc government without Liberman, the Yisrael Beytenu leader stood in the middle of Tel Aviv, noting he had never felt so confident and with so much support.
“All those that want an Israel that is liberal and Zionist, and who oppose one based on religious Jewish law, should vote for Yisrael Beytenu,” Liberman said.