Israel Election Results: ‘No Breakthrough’ in Netanyahu-Lieberman Meeting to End Political Deadlock

Progress still elusive as Likud announces that Netanyahu is considering holding a snap primary election to 'shatter the illusion' of a party rebellion

Benjamin Netanyahu (R) converses with Avigdor Lieberman during a Likud-Yisrael Beitenu campaign rally in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, January 16, 2013
\ Amir Cohen/ REUTERS

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yisrael Beiteinu's Avigdor Lieberman met on Thursday for the first time since Israel's September 17 election, but Netanyahu's Likud party said "there was no breakthough" in stalled coalition talks.

The meeting lasted less than an hour, with neither party reporting major progress.

“Netanyahu offered Lieberman to join the government as soon as possible, to enable the formation of a national unity government,” Likud said in a statement, while Yisrael Beiteinu, reiterating support for a broad coalition, said "the right way forward is agreeing on shared fundamentals between Yisrael Beiteinu, Likud and Kahol Lavan" before discussing the makeup of the government. 

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Later Thursday Likud released a statement saying that Netanyahu was considering a snap primary election to “shatter the illusion of a ‘Likud rebellion,’ which other parties hope for,” arguing that is what’s “holding other party leaders back from joining a national unity government.”

Likud announced on Wednesday that Netanyahu would meet with Lieberman "in light of the breakdown in negotiations Kahol Lavan," after Gantz's party canceled appointments between him and Netanyahu and the negotiating teams scheduled to be held this week.

Lieberman said he would also seek to hold informal talks with Gantz on Thursday, when the newly elected members of the 22nd Knesset are sworn in, but no meeting had yet been announced. 

During the Israeli election campaign, Yisrael Beiteinu called for a unity government with Likud and Kahol Lavan, but since then, Lieberman has not actively taken part in efforts to bridge the gaps between the parties. 

Earlier on Wednesday, Lieberman said his party would enter "high gear" and directly participate in negotiations if a compromise had not been found by Yom Kippur, less than a week away. 

It is unclear what a Lieberman government proposal would look like. Unlike Kahold Lavan, Yisrael Beiteinu does not oppose Netanyahu serving as prime minister, even if indicted. However, the secular party is strongly in support of legislation that would dramatically alter the current status quo with the ultra-Orthodox public, including the draft law, which directlty conflicts with Netanyahu's partnership with the ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism.