Netanyahu Trying to Form Coalition With Arab Parties, Says Lieberman

Yisrael Beiteinu chairman bases statement in part on an op-ed written by the prime minister’s close associate, Nathan Eshel, which was published in Haaretz

Avigdor Lieberman at a Yisrael Beiteinu press conference, June 8, 2019.
\ Moti Milrod

Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman claimed Monday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is planning to set up a minority coalition supported from the outside by the Arab parties.

“We heard the prime minister saying about Arabs that they were heading for the voting booths in droves … but now the prime minister is heading towards the Arab parties, which will apparently cost the taxpayer a great deal of money,” Lieberman told a meeting of a his party.

Lieberman is basing his statement in part on the op-ed written by the prime minister’s close associate Nathan Eshel, which was published in Haaretz. “We must tie our fate to that of Israel’s Arabs,” Eshel wrote.

Lieberman maintained that such articles don’t get written without the prime minister’s knowledge. “Obviously this was a trial balloon,” Lieberman said.

“I know matters well from the inside and also, the small talk between functionaries within the Likud. This is the plan,” Lieberman said.

The Likud responded that Lieberman’s statement is “fake news detached from reality. There had not been and will not be collaboration between the Likud and the Arab parties. Prime Minister Netanyahu will work towards establishing a right-wing government led by the Likud.”

Israeli Arab politicians have also denied Lieberman's speculations, arguing it was at least in part intended to hinder efforts to form a united Arab ticket ahead of the September 17 election. 

Hadash chairman Ayman Odeh said that Netanyah can't "buy off" the Arab parties. "His media spins ... will fail," he said, arguing the prime minister is driven by "fear of us forming the Joint List, fear of us getting 15 seats, fear of losing government."

Leaders of Ta'al, Balad and the United Arab List have also vehemently denied Lieberman's words.