Israeli Opposition Leader Says He's Building Political Bloc to Replace Netanyahu

Isaac Herzog claims a majority of legislators would join a new ruling coalition; defense chief Lieberman stands behind government.

Isaac Herzog and Avigdor Lieberman in 2015.
Isaac Herzog and Avigdor Lieberman in 2015. Gil Eliahu

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) told his party lawmakers on Monday that he is trying to forge a political bloc that could replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the next election or even in the current legislature.

"There are more than 60 Knesset members who are fed up with Netanyahu and would be happy to build a coalition with a different prime minister in this Knesset," said Herzog. He also called on Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon not to give in to Netanyahu's demands and to quit the coalition and join the effort to put together a new government.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Monday that an alternative to the Netanyahu government was not an option. Speaking at the start of a meeting of  MKs from the party that he heads, Yisrael Beiteinu, Lieberman added that Israel does not need elections at this time. "No one wants an election. We must use common sense," Lieberman said. He said that in his estimation, the current tensions will not result in a genuine crisis and the coalition will find "a solution everyone can live with."

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, speaking on Monday at a caucus of his own Habayit Hayehudi party, echoed the sentiments of Lieberman, "No one needs elections now. We have tremendous momentum in all areas: educational, economic and judicial. People have told me over the past few days that we are the party with the most to gain from going to elections now, but we have all decided to do everything possible in order to broker a compromise over this superfluous crisis, Bennett said.

From my perspective, as the leader of the nationalist left, as long as the right-wing government continues to implement the policy of the right, it will persist."