Avigdor Liberman, head of the Yisrael Beitenu party, has issued an ultimatum to Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz. In an interview of Channel 12 television, Liberman said he intended to request meetings with Netanyahu and Gantz this week. "Gantz should accept the president's plan for rotation of the premiership with Netanyahu, and Netanyahu should give up the right-wing block. Whoever fails to make the decisions he ought to make will pay the price," Liberman said.
Asked what he meant by that, Liberman said that whoever thwarted the formation of a national unity government would be taking the risk that he, Liberman, would lend his support to the other side, in order to avoid a third general election in Israel, after elections in April and September this year ended inconclusively.
The upshot is that unless a unity government is agreed upon, Liberman will support a government headed by Netanyahu (including the haredi parties), or a narrow government headed by Gantz with external support from the Arab parties.
Yisrael Beitenu has eight seats in the 120-member Knesset. Netanyahu's failure to form a new government after the last two elections was largely because of Liberman's refusal to sit in a government with the haredi (ultra-Orthodox Jewish) parties, traditional backers of Netanyahu, unless his demands on religion and state were met.
On the possibility of holding a direct election for prime minister as a way out of the current political impasse, Liberman said that changing the law in this way would be complicated, and that it was therefore not a real option under a transitional government.
Meanwhile, outgoing prime minister Netanyahu has agreed with the New Right party that its three Knesset members will act as a joint party with Likud, and that New Right chairman Naftali Bennett will be appointed minister of defense. The pact was announced on Friday.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on November 10, 2019
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