Liberman rules out minority government and right-wing coalition

Blames Netanyahu and Gantz equally, turned down rotation as prime minister.

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman ruled out helping to establish a minority government backed by the Joint List, effectively ending any chance of Blue and White leader Benny Gantz being able to form a coalition by Wednesday night's deadline.
Liberman called the Joint List a "fifth column" and said he did not want to cooperate with the Arab party.
"We won’t enter a government backed directly or indirectly by the Joint List," Liberman said.
Liberman also blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for not giving up his bond with haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties, whom he called anti-Zionist, and ruled out joining a narrow right-wing government with Shas and United Torah Judaism.
But he said that he still hoped a third election within a year could be avoided, and gave indications that he still believed a unity government could be formed over the next three weeks when any MK can build a coalition.
"If we are dragged into elections, it will be because of a lack of leadership," Liberman said.   
Liberman said he turned down many enticing offers from Likud and Blue and White, including a rotation in the Prime Minister's Office.
"I don't give up my principles for chairs, even the most comfortable, padded chair," he said.   
Liberman called for extensive electoral reforms, including direct elections for prime minister and the Australian requirement for every citizen to vote. He said he also wants secular parties to reach a bond on matters of religion and state.
Netanyahu and Gantz met late Tuesday in an effort to persuade Liberman that the other side is to blame for the failure to form a unity government.
Both Netanyahu and Gantz issued statements after their ill-fated meeting, attempting to woo Liberman. Netanyahu noted the tension on the border with Syria and said that Liberman should not allow a coalition to be formed that would be dependent on Arab MKs. Gantz focused on matters of religion and state and said that Liberman should back a coalition led by him.
Gantz's mandate to form a government is set to expire at midnight tonight. If he cannot form a government by then, there will be 21 days in which any MK can attempt to form a government by gaining the support of a majority of the Knesset. If no MK manages to do so, elections will automatically be held in March.