Liberman ditches prospects of unity government

After insisting on establishment of unity government in wake of last general vote, Liberman abandons hope such government will be forme; dismisses PM's recent political moves as election spins

Attila Somfalvi, Alexandra Lukash|
Yisrael Beyetenu Chairman Avigdor Liberman said on Tuesday the next government will not be a unity government, but a Zionist and liberal government.
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  • "I know there won't be a unity government, but a Zionist and liberal government," Liberman said in an interview at the Ynet studio. "The public wants a government and prefers a Zionist and liberal one - and that's what needs to be done."
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    Avigdor Liberman
    (Photo: Avi Moalem)
    After Israel's last round of elections in September ended in a stalemate, Liberman insisted he would only join a unity government consisting of his Yisrael Beytenu party, alongside the country's two major parties, Likud and Blue & White, who were both unable to establish a viable majority government due to an ongoing political impasse.
    The Moldovan-born lawmaker did not elaborate on his favorable composition of the next government but doubled down on a promise he made during the last election campaign to not join a government which includes far-right members of Knesset, Bezalel Smotrich and Rafi Peretz.
    "These are people with messianic world views," said Liberman. "If they want to believe in the messiah and take us back to the days of Kings Saul and David, it's their right, but it's hard for me to call either Smotrich or Peretz liberal people."
    After the previous elections, Liberman demanded Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would part with his "ultra-Orthodox-messianic bloc", which consisted of the premier's ruling Likud party, the ultra-Orthodox parties and the Yamina alliance of far-right parties led by Peretz and Smotrich, alongside New Right party leaders Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked.
    Liberman also rejected any possibility of sitting with the ultra-Orthodox parties and the predominately Arab Joint List, which he called 'non-Zionist' and 'anti-Zionist' respectively.
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    שר הביטחון אביגדור ליברמן מדבר על המצב בעזה בישיבת סיעה של ישראל ביתנו בכנסת
    שר הביטחון אביגדור ליברמן מדבר על המצב בעזה בישיבת סיעה של ישראל ביתנו בכנסת
    Liberman in his days as defense minister talking about the situation in Gaza
    (Photo: Alex Gamburg)
    Liberman also attacked Netanyahu's policies regarding handling the recurrent acts of aggression from the Gaza Strip, arguing Israel needs to reinstate preventive attacks on the infrastructure and personnel of the Gaza Strip's terror factions while promoting Israel advocacy among the coastal enclave's youth.
    "There are many internet and digital media consumers out there and you have to explain to them that it is possible for them to make money and live like a normal country, rather than blow up," said Liberman. "Turn Gaza into the Singapore of the Middle East."
    He also said that a cement shipment delivered to the Gaza Strip last week without UN supervision is being appropriated to building terror tunnels into Israel and called to stop the transfer of monthly financial aid from Qatar to the Strip. He also said he visited Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip on Monday and spoke to residents and local leaders, who told him they felt "frustrated and abandoned."
    The Yisrael Beyetenu Chairman also addressed the issue of potential population exchanges as part of U.S. President Donald Trump's proposed peace plan for the Middle East, namely the transfer of Israeli Arabs to Palestinian territories.
    "There are hundreds of historical precedents for this and as far as international law is concerned, there is no problem and that is possible," said Liberman. "The riots in the Triangle (a concentration of Israeli Arab towns and villages bordering on the West Bank) should alarm us. They want to be Israeli citizens but protest with Palestinian Authority flags. This unacceptable absurdity should be stopped. They want to stay and destroy us from the inside."
    We must say to Israeli Arabs – voting for the Joint List is a sign that you want to take us apart from the inside. If you want to become a part of Israeli society, vote for Zionist parties."
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    אביגדור ליברמן
    Liberman during a recent visit to the Jordan Valley
    Liberman also dismissed recent political moves made by Netanyahu, namely his frequent political trips abroad and intentions to annex the Jordan Valley, as election spins.
    "One day he's in Washington, the other he's in Moscow and Uganda. This is instead of going to communities on the Gaza border and meeting with residents there," said Liberman. "These political moves are important, but everything Netanyahu does during election month – the peace plan, the premature uncovering of relations with Sudan that have yet to materialize – it all loses its value because everyone knows these are election spins and the tax-payer is paying for it. It's all a flying circus."
    How many stories has Netanyahu already told us about the Jordan Valley? And who's stopping him? He has a majority in Knesset, he can put it up for vote today and Israel Beytenu will vote in favor. We've already submitted a bill, and he prevents us from voting on it. He talked so much and ultimately its all a farce."
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