Lieberman Says New Elections Aren’t Necessary, but Are ‘A Fact’

Lapid accuses Netanyahu of forcing ‘totally useless elections.’

Emil Salman

Foreign Minister and Yisrael Beitenu chair Avigdor Lieberman yesterday dealt a final blow to the possibility of preempting new elections with an alternative coalition relying on the ultra-Orthodox parties.

“It’s no secret that the Israeli people doesn’t quite understand why we’re going to elections again after less than two years. Elections are a fact at this point. I don’t want to get into why we’ve come to this. Up to this moment I was confident that we could have done things differently and that we needn’t have ended up going to elections,” Lieberman told reporters.

“We all should have united and instead we’ll be quarreling for several months,” he said. “I hope that this will be a serious and businesslike campaign, without superfluous fights”

In an attempt to appear statesmanlike, he added, “We are obligated today to think about how we get back on track right after the elections. We face many challenges, and the fact that we’re going to elections doesn’t absolve us from these challenges. We are still a state without a budget, including a budget for the IDF. A general strike in the economy will soon be upon us. The employment service is on strike. We face quite a few challenges in the diplomatic arena: the UN secretary’s commission of inquiry, the Human Rights Council, initiatives from France, and recognition of a Palestinian state by one parliament or another. We must deal with the diplomatic challenges. Terror is rearing its head.”

Earlier, Finance Minister Yair Lapid accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of leading Israel to an unnecessary election. “He’s dragging the country to totally useless elections, just because he made a ‘deal’ with the Haredim. This is unforgivable national irresponsibility,” Lapid said at the Hadera Energy Conference at the Exhibition Grounds in Tel Aviv.

“We had an alternative, and a good alternative,” Lapid said. “Instead of wasting billions of shekels on a superfluous election campaign, instead of paralyzing the Israeli economy, we could have passed a socially conscious budget, added billions of shekels for education, for health and welfare, for internal security, to continue with the national housing program that is increasing the supply by a dramatic scope, more than has been the case in years, and to give young couples a discount of more than 200,000 shekels ($50,000) on new apartments through the zero-VAT plan and price goal plan. This budget also included additional billions of shekels for the IDF and the defense establishment.”