Lieberman Accuses Netanyahu of Dragging Out Government Formation 'For Personal Reasons'

Yisrael Beiteinu chairman says Netanyahu's party is 'already eulogizing' him, hours before president tasks Benny Gantz with establishing coalition

Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman addresses the press, September 22, 2019.
Olivier Fitoussi

Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of talking about a unity government while driving Israel into a third round of elections in a Wednesday morning radio interview.

Hours before President Reuven Rivlin passes the mandate to form a government to Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz, Lieberman told Kan Bet public radio that “Netanyahu has no interest in establishing a government. He wants to drag things out, for personal reasons.” 

Likud, Lieberman said, is "already eulogizing Netanyahu." The party's senior members "are on the starting line to primaries," he added.

The Yisrael Beiteinu leader said that while he wants his party to be in the coalition, from his perspective, "it's more important to form a government, even at the cost of Yisrael Beiteinu staying outside it." When asked if his party would support a minority government headed by Gantz, Lieberman refused to answer, saying the subject is "media spin by Likud."

Lieberman added that "we need to wait for David Bitan's forecast, that the blocs will fall apart." This is a reference to the Likud MK's Tuesday statement that the right- and left-wing blocs would disintegrate if Rivlin allowed the Knesset to propose an alternative candidate to form a government.

Two weeks ago, Lieberman published guidelines for establishing a coalition between Kahol Lavan, Likud and his party. Netanyahu, the document says, would have to withdraw from the agreement he formulated with the right-wing parties, who would only later be able to join the government on the basis of agreements reached by the three parties. Lieberman also called for the establishment of a government led by Netanyahu and Gantz in rotation, based on the plan suggested by Rivlin.