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Lieberman. Israeli politics' new strongman Photo: Gil Yohanan
Lieberman. Israeli politics' new strongman Photo: Gil Yohanan
 
 

 

Yisrael Beiteinu doesn't rule out Livni as PM

After becoming third biggest Knesset faction, Yisrael Beiteinu knows it holds key for next coalition. Party officials say that while they are inclined to go with Netanyahu, decision on who to recommend to president not final

Yael Branovsky
Published: 02.11.09, 11:14 / Israel News

Yisrael Beiteinu activists responded with ambivalence to the election results for the 18th Knesset. While the party succeeded in becoming the third largest political faction on Tuesday, it was actually hoping to win 20 Knesset seats.

 

Upon receiving the exit polls results on Tuesday evening, many in the party were clearly dissatisfied.

 

"We're disappointed because the gut feeling was different. Everyone attacked us from Right and Left, haredim and seculars. But that's okay, we'll get more in the next elections," one activist declared.


Yisrael Beiteinu elections headquarters Tuesday evening (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

 

However, in light of their sweeping success, the party activists now realize that Chairman Avigdor Lieberman could be the one to decide who will be Israel's next prime minister.

 

The Yisrael Beiteinu faction will convene Tuesday to decide which of the two leading party heads should be tasked with forming the coalition. In a speech Tuesday evening Lieberman clarified that he was aware of the power he held in his hands.

 

"Everybody's saying that the key to the next government is in Yisrael Beiteinu's hands. This key places great responsibility on our shoulders and the decision will not be easy.

 

"I spoke with Tzipi Livni and Benjamin Netanyahu, but we will fight for our principles," he stated.

 

While Lieberman admitted that he was naturally more inclined to join a Right-wing coalition, a senior party official said that Yisrael Beiteinu has not made a final decision regarding who it will support for prime minister: "We prefer to form a national camp with Netanyahu, but we haven't ruled out Livni yet."

 

Top party figures said that throughout the election campaign Netanyahu has refrained from promising a certain portfolio to Lieberman. In light of this, they said, the party chairman may even recommend himself to the president to form a coalition.

 

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