Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
and Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman
held their first post-election meeting Sunday.
The two reportedly agreed to continue the close collaboration between their two parties and have cemented the basis for the coalitional negotiation.
The Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu
decision to run in the general elections under a joint tickets has been widely criticized from the beginning, with members of both parties blaming the union for the drop in the two's mandates.
Pre-election polls projected the joint ticket would win 42 mandates, but the final tally of the votes saw it secure only 31 House seats; a result described by both as "shocking."
Netanyahu and Lieberman (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Netanyahu and Lieberman, however, seemed unfazed: "The public has sent us a clear message – it wants me to continue leading the country and it wants me to form a coalition," Netanyahu said.
In a brief press conference held Wednesday afternoon, he said that "The public wants me to form a government that will instill three internal changes – an equal distribution of social burden, attainable housing and a change in the system of government."
Lieberman spoke to his faction after meeting with Netanyahu, saying that it was "too early to understand the true ramifications of the elections' results.
"The one thing that is abundantly clear is that the people are seeking a true, dramatic change – not something cosmetic – when it comes to internal policy. The government will have to redefine its agenda," he said.
Lieberman called on all parties who perceived themselves as potential coalition partners to present their agenda to Netanyahu and join the government.
Asked about the possibility that Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid may be appointed the new foreign minister, Lieberman said it was "unlikely," adding that he believed the centrist party would prefer the Treasury."
Yisrael Beiteinu's chairman reiterated a statement made on Tuesday night, following criticism voiced on the decision to run under a joint ticket with the Likud, saying that "We achieved both of our primary goals – the national camp will continue to lead Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu will continue to serve as prime minister."
Aviel Magnezi contributed to this report
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