Lieberman Goes After Arab Joint List: They Are a Fifth Column

Lieberman, who emerged kingmaker again after Israel's September election, charges that 'the Joint List doesn't represent the Arabs of Israel'

Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman talking at a cultural event in central Israel, August 10, 2019.
Tomer Appelbaum

Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman went after the Arab Joint List on Thursday, calling the alliance of four Arab-majority parties a "fifth column" in a radio interview. 

Speaking to Israel Radio, Lieberman, whose party's eight seats could be decisive in the formation of a government following the September election, said: "It's clear that the Joint List is a fifth column, not in quotation marks but quite literally."

The Yisrael Beiteinu leader discounted the option of the formation of a minority government that would be supported from outside the coalition by the Joint List. In such a scenario, the Joint List would vote in favor of government legislation but not join the governing coalition.

"It's not happenstance that three senior representatives of Balad were charged and convicted of security offenses," Lieberman said in reference to one of the parties that make up the alliance. "Unfortunately, the Joint List doesn't represent the Arabs of Israel. During the entire election campaign, we said there is only one option – a unity government, period. We will stick with everything that we have promised the voter."

Gantz renews discussion on unity government with Likud

Kahol Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz and No.2 on the party slate, Yair Lapid, joined their negotiation team on Thursday for a meeting with Likud's negotiation team. 

This is the second such meeting between the two teams since the former army chief of staff received the mandate from President Reuven Rivlin last week to try and form a governing coalition. 

Rivlin tapped Gantz after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he had failed in his efforts to do so. A national unity government would bring Netanyahu's Likud party and Kahol Lavan into a government together.

Later Thursday, Gantz is expected to meet with Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh, in one of a round of talks that Gantz is having with party heads in an effort to form a government. Gantz met with Lieberman on Monday. That same day, the Yisrael Beiteinu Knesset faction met and issued a statement that it would not join a narrow right-wing government.