Lieberman's Plan for Unity Government: Break Up Right-wing Bloc, Hold Rotation Between Netanyahu and Gantz

Kingmaker and Yisrael Beiteinu chairman offers negotiations between his party, Netanyahu's party and Kahol Lavan ■ Likud rejects proposal

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Israeli ex-defense minister Avigdor Lieberman addresses members of his party Yisrael Beitenu, during a meeting in the cooperative Israeli village of Yad Hashmona near Jerusalem on September 22, 2019.
Israeli ex-defense minister Avigdor Lieberman addresses members of his party Yisrael Beitenu, during a meeting in the cooperative Israeli village of Yad Hashmona near Jerusalem on September 22, 2019. Credit: AFP
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman published a plan he has devised for the establishment of an Israeli unity government. At the heart of Lieberman's plan is an initiative to hold negotiations over the formation of a governing coalition between three parties: His own, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud and Kahol Lavan.

According to Lieberman's plan, Netanyahu would have to back out of an agreement with what he calls "the Haredi Messianic," religious right-wing bloc. These parties (Shas, United Torah Judaism and the Ayelet Shaked-led Yamina alliance) could only join the government later on, based on understandings the three parties will reach amongst themselves.

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Lieberman called on setting up a rotation agreement between Netanyahu and his rival Benny Gantz, based on a proposal introduced earlier this month by President Reuven Rivlin. According to the president's plan, if an indictment is filed against Netanyahu while he serves as prime minister, Gantz will be handed all the official responsiblities of running the country.

As part of his plan, the former defense minister who emerged as kingmaker after Israel's last two elections proposed to discuss several main issues. He wishes to reach an agreement with Likud and Kahol Lavan to pass a law that would force ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students to draft into the military and nix a law that would keep supermarkets close on Shabbat. Lieberman also wants the parties to discuss minimizing budgets, raising taxes and finding a permanent solution for the situation in the Gaza Strip.

Lieberman reiterated Saturday that he would not join a right-wing coalition and that he would not cooperate with a government that teams with the Arab Joint List.

Likud expressed skepticism at his proposal. "Lieberman's plan doesn't offer anything new," the party's statement said. "Lieberman continues to avoid saying out loud that he and his party will vote against (and not just try to prevent) a left-wing government headed by Gantz that will rely on the Arab parties."

Kahol Lavan, on the other hand, welcomed the proposal and said it views Liberman's party as a partner for a future coalition. "We called on Likud to negotiate meaningfully... Unfortunately we have been blocked!" the party's statement said.

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