Lieberman says 'nyet' to joint list with Netanyahu

Says obstacles between the two parties not personal but ideological; denies eyeing Likud leadership.

avigdor lieberman (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
avigdor lieberman
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday rejected calls in the Likud for the two parties to run on a joint list in the next general election. The Jerusalem Post reported on Friday that Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu told Lieberman recently he wanted the two parties to run together. Netanyahu would be willing to reserve slots on the Likud's Knesset slate for Israel Beiteinu candidates as he did for those from Rafael Eitan's Tzomet Party and David Levy's Gesher Party when he won the 1996 election. The haredi newspaper Yated Ne'eman printed the Post report word-for-word on Sunday but added that the talks between Lieberman and Netanyahu were "secret." Lieberman was asked by Army Radio about "secret talks" with Netanyahu. "There are no secret meetings between us," Lieberman said. "I meet regularly with Netanyahu in the Knesset cafeteria. There aren't reserved slots and there aren't talks on merging the parties. But there are many people who are friends of mine and Netanyahu who talk about such things." Lieberman said the obstacles between his party and the Likud were not personal but ideological. He denied having an interest in challenging Netanyahu for the Likud leadership. "There is a gap in the outlooks of the parties," Lieberman said. "We are a right-wing secular movement with a clear socioeconomic and civilian agenda. We want the Likud to adopt our approach on changing the government system, conversion and civil unions. I'm not playing games of ego. There are people in Israeli politics who behave differently, not just ambitions and personal pretensions." In the radio interview, Lieberman called upon the IDF to attack terrorist bases in the Gaza Strip. And he warned Syrian President Bashar Assad that Israel could act to remove his regime if there were security problems in the North. "The Syrians must understand that if the situation deteriorates, the Syrian regime will pay the price, because they are the source of the problem," Lieberman said.