Lieberman: Contrary to Decline in Polls, Likud-Beiteinu Will Win 40 Seats

Former foreign minister says continued settlement construction 'is in Israel's national interest'; Livni: If the public gives me enough power I will be able to force Netanyahu into peace negotiations.

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Former foreign minister and number 2 on the Likud-Yisrael-Beiteinu list, Avigdor Lieberman, said on Saturday that recent poll numbers indicating that the Liku-Beiteinu is losing support do not necessarily reflect reality.

Speaking at a public event in Be'er Sheva, Lieberman spoke about the predictions made by the Likud's strategic adviser Arthur Finkelstein, according to which Netanyahu and Lieberman's joint Knesset list would win 47 seats in Tuesday's election.

"Finkelstein didn't promise anything," Lieberman said. "We took into account the possibility that there could be various outcomes. We are getting more seats than what the polls predict, those polls don't necessarily reflect reality. I believe we will win around 40 seats. That's my estimation."

Lieberman also spoke about his trial revolving the ambassador affair, saying that "at the end of the trial I will be cleared and I will return to the foreign ministry."

Regarding political discord with the U.S., Lieberman said that "Israel enjoys close cooperation with the U.S. in many areas. There are disagreements over Jerusalem and the settlement blocs. It's not the first time – friends can have disagreements." Lieberman added that Israel "will keep building in Jerusalem, what interests us is Israel's national interest."

On the issue of the stalled negotiations with the Palestinians, Lieberman said that "the prime minister made the Bar-Ilan speech and said, 'I am ready for immediate negotiations without preconditions.' For four years we have been calling for negotiations. The Bar-Ilan speech is still relevant." Lieberman added that it is the Palestinians who have been refusing to sit down at the negotiating table, and that President Mahmoud Abbas has become weak: "For three years there haven't been elections for the parliament and the presidency in the Palestinian Authority. Today there is no such concept as the Palestinian Authority."

On the Iranian nuclear program, Lieberman said that the Islamic Republic is involved in the Syrian conflict, adding that "unfortunately the world has accepted a nuclear India, North Korea, Pakistan and others. We must do everything for the world to understand it cannot live side by side with a nuclear Iran."

Asked by a member of the crowd about Shas' controversial "conversion star" campaign ad, Lieberman said that "what we saw in the ad is an attempt to stain all of the immigrants" from the former Soviet Union. "I am still a friend of Aryeh Deri," Lieberman added, "despite the 'conversion star.' I did not say we will be political partners; only those who accept our basic principles – sharing the burden, changing the system of governance and affordable housing – will be political partners."

Lieberman also spoke about recent comments made by former Shin Bet security agency head Yuval Diskin, criticizing the conduct of the prime minister and defense minister. "Diskin did not speak this way when he was on duty," Lieberman said. "I think this talk erodes our credibility. I am surprised he felt a need to issue a warning just as the election nears. We are closely following what is happening in Iran. They are continuing with their maneuvers and weapons purchases. We are working vigorously and the government will know what to do. The public understands that the next government will have to make decisions on the matter."

Also on Saturday, leader of the Hatnuah party, Tzipi Livni, and Labor Leader Shelly Yacimovich addressed the public in separate events.

"The price that Netanyahu will have to pay me to enter the government under his leadership will be a political one, and not in cash as it is for his natural partners," Livni said at the Be'er Sheva event, referring to the Haredi parties.

Livni said that if she gets enough votes, she will be able to force Netanyahu to enter peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

"If the public gives me enough power I will be able to force Netanyahu to do what he does not really want to do – a political process, which is the only thing that will take Israel out of the isolation that is hurting it in every area."

Meanwhile, at an event Saturday in the city of Rehovot, Yacimovich said that "if Netanyahu is elected, the next day a total devastation of the middle classes will begin, and social hell, economic chaos and international isolation will prevail here."

"Everyone who forgot that Netanyahu went to elections because he was scared to pass a budget of cuts, will remember this the day after when it is already too late," she added.

Foreign Minister Avigdor LiebermanCredit: Olivier Fitoussi

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