By: Arye Green
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman on Saturday night threatened both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz that he would support their opponent if they failed to make the necessary compromise necessary for a unity government.
“Gantz will have to accept the president’s plan, including Netanyahu’s leave of absence, and Netanyahu will need to leave his ultra-Orthodox messianic bloc. I expect both people to make the right decisions,” Liberman said.
“We will request a meeting with both of them this week. Whoever makes the wrong decision, we will support the other side,” he added.
Gantz is currently attempting to form a government after Netanyahu failed to do so and returned the mandate to the president. Both party leaders said they would attempt to form a wide unity government.
In recent weeks, a series of meetings between the parties to discuss the prospects of establishing a unity government have ended with no results, and the threat of a third consecutive round of elections continues to grow stronger.
Liberman has seemingly made his threat to break the current stalemate whereby both party leaders have conflicting demands they are not willing to give up. Gantz will not accept Rivlin’s suggestion for Netanyahu to be first in a rotation agreement and take a leave of absence to deal with his legal issues, while Netanyahu is not willing to negotiate without the rest of the right-wing parties, which formed a political bloc.
Netanyahu responded to Liberman’s threats at the weekly cabinet meeting, where he blamed Liberman of directing his threat only at the Likud and not at Blue and White, since he was demanding only that the Likud leave its partners behind and did not make similar demands of Blue and White.
He quoted previous statements Liberman had made, calling members of the Joint List traitors and saying their true place was in the parliament in Ramallah rather than in the Knesset. If Liberman were to support Gantz’s government, he would be part of a government supported by the party he previously slammed so vigorously.
Now, however, Netanyahu said that Liberman is “fully coordinated with the Joint List and Gantz.”
Blue and White have not responded to Liberman’s threat, but did comment on the Likud’s response to Liberman.
“The citizens of Israel will not forgive Netanyahu if he drags the State of Israel to a third round of unnecessary and expensive elections because of his legal situation,” Blue and White stated.