Liberman: Will only join a national unity government

Having pledged support for a right-wing government in the past, Yisrael Beytenu chief and potential kingmaker after the next elections now calls for broad coalition of left and right to block ultra-Orthodox demands

Kobi Nachshoni and Yuval Karni|Updated:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urges Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to ignore the opposition of his political partner Yair Lapid and join him in a unity government.
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ישיבת סיעה של המחנה הלאומי
ישיבת סיעה של המחנה הלאומי
ישיבת סיעה של המחנה הלאומי
(צילום: אלכס קולומויסקי)

"What we need now is not more elections, but a unity government," he said. "It's not too late, let's sit together and announce that we are forming a national unity government."
Netanyahu, speaking to his political allies in his Knesset bloc said Gantz should "do the right thing."
"We must get out of this stalemate," the prime minister said adding " I did not notice the matters of religion and state bother Yair Lapid when he was trying to coax the Orthodox to join a Gantz coalition.
Calling on Gantz again Netanyahu said: I am willing to sit down with you and talk now, within five minutes. You should be willing to do the same".
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman on Sunday reiterated that he would only join a government of national unity after the September 17 elections, citing a looming economic crisis and the need to block religious and far-right legislation.
Writing on his Facebook page Sunday, Liberman stood by his surprise declaration on Israeli television a day earlier that he is no longer committed to a right-wing government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
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אביגדור ליברמן בראיון לאולפן ynet
אביגדור ליברמן בראיון לאולפן ynet
Avigdor Liberman
(Photo: Avi Moalem)
He told Channel 13 on Saturday night that he would only support a coalition of both Likud and the Blue and White party as such a government would better reflect the will of the voters. Both Likud and the Blue and White party secured 35 seats in the April 9 elections.
Blue and White has already announced it will not join a Netanyahu-led government as long as he is facing corruption charges. The prime minister is facing bribery, breach of trust and fraud charges in three separate investigations.
The Likud party said in response that Liberman would lead to the creation of left-wing government, therefore right-wing voters must only vote Likud.
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בנימין נתניהו ואביגדור ליברמן
בנימין נתניהו ואביגדור ליברמן
Prime Minister Netanyahu and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman
(Photo: AFP)
Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government after the last elections when Liberman refused to join unless the legislation on ultra-Orthodox participation in the military was passed unchanged by the religious parties.
Members of Blue and White said, however, that Liberman's announcement was too little, too late.
Just two months ago, after the election results gave the right a potential 65-seat majority including Yisrael Beytenu, Liberman insisted a national unity government would be paralyzed by conflicting views and only a national emergency can justify such a move.
Deputy Finance Minister Yitzhak Cohen of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party told Israel Radio on Sunday that his party would not sit in a government with Liberman, whom he branded a dangerous man disrespectful of the religious community.
First published: 11:44, 06.16.19
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