Israel Election Results: Lieberman Says Will Recommend Lapid as PM Candidate to President Rivlin

Yisrael Beiteinu chairman vows to promote two-term limit on premiership as well as bill requiring that a prime minister resign after being criminally indicted

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Avigdor Lieberman during an election tour in Tel Aviv, Tuesday.
Avigdor Lieberman during an election tour in Tel Aviv, Tuesday.Credit: Hadas Parush

Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman said on Sunday his party would recommend to President Reuven Rivlin that Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid be tasked with forming a coalition government.

On Tuesday, Israelis went to the polls for the fourth time in two years. While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud has emerged as the largest party with all the votes counted, it lacks an immediate majority to form a coalition. 

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Meanwhile, the anti-Netanyahu bloc has also been trying to secure the necessary 61 Knesset seats. 

Lieberman didn't explicitly name Lapid in his Facebook post, but wrote that he would "back the chairman of a party from the opposition bloc that received the most Knesset seats as the candidate for Prime Minister."

Lapid's Yesh Atid, a member of the anti-Netanyahu bloc, secured 17 Knesset seats in Tuesday's election. "Anyone who attempts to sabotage this move and puts his ego above the national interest will bear the responsibility of a fifth election," Lieberman wrote.

Lieberman also vowed to promote two bills once the 24th Knesset is sworn in: a two-term limit for the premiership, and another requiring that a prime minister resign after being criminally indicted.

The former Netanyahu ally also noted that the prime minister himself was a proponent of both propositions in the past.

However, even if both bills were to pass into law, Netanyahu could still run at the top of Likud's slate in another election. If he secures a 61 majority, Netanyahu will be able annul the bills and legitimize his candidacy for prime minister.

Meanwhile Lapid met with Kahol Lavan chairman Benny Gantz on Sunday. According to a laconic joint statement from both parties the two discussed ways to form a new government and replace Netanyahu as prime minister, adding that they were expected to resume talks in the coming days.

Earlier on Sunday, Lapid met with United Arab List head Mansour Abbas, who has been propelled to the center of Israeli politics as an unlikely kingmaker, to discuss the possibility of forming a government.

Sources said Lapid was the one who initiated the meeting, which took place at his home in Tel Aviv. 

A statement released by the United Arab List said Lapid and Abbas would meet again in the coming days to further discuss the formation of a new government.  

According to sources involved in setting up the meeting, Lapid deemed the meeting "excellent." 

But a UAL source was quick to pour cold water on possible agreements between Lapid and Abbas. "The fact that the meeting was positive doesn't mean we've reached understandings. It's still too soon to talk about understandings, we're not really there," he said.   

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