Yisrael Beytenu chairman says he does not intend to join a narrow government, is convinced that a unity government is no longer an option.
Ben Ariel –
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman does not intend to join a narrow government of any kind, neither one that is led by the right nor one that is led by the left.
In an interview with the Yediot Aharonot newspaper published on Thursday morning, Liberman said that “the combination of a narrow government with dramatic decisions in the fields of security and the economy – may create a big rift and polarization in the public. A narrow government is a government of complete failure.”
He accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz of having made a strategic decision not to go for a unity government. As such, he said, both parties are responsible for another election campaign.
“On election night, we promised we would turn every stone, and we did. We come with clean hands. It has nothing to do with the efforts of me and Yisrael Beytenu to bring about unity. It has to do with the fact that each side is excited by his polls: Netanyahu believes he can reach 61 seats in the next election even without us. Gantz is confident that he has increased his party’s number of seats to 36, and that he will win the next election,” said Liberman.
On Wednesday, MK Miki Zohar, the leader of the Likud negotiating team, said there is no longer any chance of forming a unity government with the Blue and White party.
“This is a finished story. There is no point in continuing to spend energy on contacts with Blue and White,” Zohar said in an interview with Arutz Sheva. “They do not want to form a government with us. I suggest that while there is still time before the Knesset dissolves, we strive to establish a right-wing government with 63 MKs with Liberman. But the chances for that are low as well.”
Asked if Likud has been in contact with the Yisrael Beytenu party, Zohar replied, “There have always been clandestine and open conversations. In the meantime, this is not going away or progressing. We are unable to reach understandings with him, unfortunately.”
He added that there is great pressure on Liberman to join the right-wing government from within his own party, “and I hope that will make an impact. We couldn’t get him to compromise. Maybe his people will be able to compromise.”
Meanwhile, Gantz spoke on Wednesday of his meeting on Tuesday with Netanyahu and said, “Netanyahu did not offer anything new. He remained steadfast in his position. That’s not how you hold negotiations.”
Though Gantz has claimed to be working towards a unity government, he has also resisted offers which would allow him to serve as premier for the lion’s share of the Knesset’s four-year term.
While his own offer would allow him to serve as premier for two years before passing the scepter to Netanyahu, Netanyahu has offered to serve just 3-4 months in the role before allowing Gantz to take over for the remaining 3+ years of the term.