Lieberman Says Government to Be Formed Without Netanyahu: No Chance for Unity

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Lieberman speaks at the Maariv Business Conference 2030, Herzliya, February 26, 2020.
Lieberman speaks at the Maariv Business Conference 2030, Herzliya, February 26, 2020.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman, who emerged as kingmaker in Israel's two previous elections this year, said on Wednesday that he is ruling out the possibility of forming a unity government with Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud after the March 2 ballot.

Speaking at the Ma'ariv Business Conference 2030 in Herzliya, Lieberman said: "Gantz and Netanyahu together reached 65 seats [in the last election], and I told them to form a government, but they preferred to argue over who would be first and who would be second," Lieberman said.

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"There is no more unity government. It's clear that nothing can be built with those two, so we're preparing ourselves," the former defense chief added. "We're ready for the day after the election. We will have 61 Knesset seats without Netanyahu, Dery and Litzman," referring to the heads of the two ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism.

The most recent poll conducted by Channel 13 News shows Netanyahu's Likud leading with 33 seats, one seat ahead of Kahol Lavan's 32 seats. The poll showed Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu garnering eight seats. Surveys do not indicate a clear path to a 61-seat majority for either the right or center-left blocks.

Last week, Lieberman said that Netanyahu "can no longer be prime minister" as far as he's concerned.

Lieberman categorically ruled out that his party would recommend to President Reuven Rivlin that Netanyahu be tasked with forming a government after the general election. He did note, however, that he "would very much like to see Netanyahu's Likud as one of the parties forming the next governing coalition."

Also on Wednesday, Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben-Gvir said that his party will only drop out of the election if Netanyahu meets several demands by Friday. Ben-Gvir's demands include the cancellation of the Oslo Accords, the promise not to establish a Palestinian state, halting the protection of Hamas, changing the composition of the Judicial Appointments Committee, and evacuating the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar. 

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