Lieberman Threatens to Join Right-wing Gov't if Gantz Doesn't Let Netanyahu Serve as PM First in Rotation Deal

Yisrael Beiteinu chairman's associates say his own party has asked him to join a narrow, right-wing government ■ Kahol Lavan unsure whether kingmaker is serious or using ploy to pressure it

Lieberman at a Yisrael Beiteinu meeting in Knesset in Jerusalem, December 2, 2019.
Ohad Zwigenberg

Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman has told Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan that he would join a narrow right-wing government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if the party doesn't agree to let Netanyahu be first to serve as premier in a rotation agreement. 

Lieberman's staff said on Tuesday that he was approached by Knesset members who asked him to enter a right-wing government to prevent Israel from going to a third election this year. 

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Earlier that day, Lieberman, who emerged once again as kingmaker after the September election, said that Knesset members from his faction "are riling up against the conduct of Kahol Lavan." When asked on the Knesset Channel whether he still rules out entering a narrow, right-wing government, he said: "It's hard to rule out what's worse, an early election or a narrow government." 

Kahol Lavan officials are unsure whether Lieberman is weighing the option or using it as a political scheme to pressure them; on Monday, Lieberman promised he wouldn't join a narrow, right-wing government. In a string of social media posts, he attacked Israel's ultra-Orthodox community and its Knesset representatives. 

On Tuesday, Netanyahu and Gantz met in Tel Aviv in a last-ditch effort to reach an agreement on the formation of a unity government. Their meeting ended at an impasse, and no compromises were forged between Kahol Lavan and Likud. If no Knesset member manages to obtain 61 supporters to gain the mandate to try and form a coalition by next Wednesday, the Knesset will dissolve and Israelis will be forced to head to the ballot box once more.