Lieberman Says Netanyahu's Political Career Is Over, He 'Can No Longer Be PM'

Yisrael Beiteinu leader vows his party won't recommend Netanyahu to be tasked with forming a government after Israel's March 2 election, but says 'would very much like to see' the premier's party in a future coalition

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Haaretz
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Yisrael Beiteinu Avigdor Lieberman at the Knesset in Jerusalem, February 2020.
Yisrael Beiteinu Avigdor Lieberman at the Knesset in Jerusalem, February 2020. Credit: Emil Salman
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Haaretz

Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman said Thursday that Benjamin Netanyahu "can no longer be prime minister," as far as he's concerned.

Lieberman told Israeli news website Walla that Netanyahu's political career has come to an end, adding that “Netanyahu has been in power for too long and has lost the instincts and the motivation to work and do what is necessary.”

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Moreover, Lieberman categorically ruled out that his party would recommend President Reuven Rivlin that Netanyahu be tasked with forming a government after the general election on March 2. He added, however, that he "would very much like to see Netanyahu's Likud as one of the parties forming the next governing coalition."

When asked whether Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan had offered him to join a government with the Joint List, an alliance of four Arab-majority parties, Lieberman said that this "is out of the question. The Joint List is a party that supports terror, they’re illegitimate, they can’t be part of a government structure, not from within and not from outside.”

Lieberman also said that he seeks a Zionist coalition, stating that ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism, which consider themselves as part of the right-wing bloc and back Netanyahu, are not Zionist.

“The term right-wing bloc grates on me. [Shas and UTJ] have no connection with the right, it’s an ultra-Orthodox bloc. Netanyahu has lost any connection with the right,” Lieberman said, hinting at the fact the Shas and UTJ have said they would recommend Netanyahu to the president.

Lieberman noted, however, that he has "nothing against the Haredim. The incitement [against the secular public] comes only from the ultra-Orthodox establishment.  My problem is only with religious coercion. I believe in live and let live.”

Liberman blamed Netanyahu and Gantz for leading Israel to a third election within a year. “Netanyahu's Likud and Gantz's Kahol Lavan garnered together 65 Knesset seats. But instead of forming a unity government they quarreled over when a rotation of the premiership would take place and who would serve first as prime minister.”

In addition, Lieberman said that a unity government would probably not be formed after the March 2 election, stating he's committed to forming a government. “A fourth election won't take place. Period.”

Referring to the criminal investigation launched into an affair involving Gantz and his former artificial intelligence company Fifth Dimension, Lieberman said that he refuses to judge a person before findings are presented and decisions are taken by the State Prosecutor and the court.

“I’m not familiar with this affair. If there are preliminary findings the police must investigate.”

Acting State Prosecutor Dan Eldad decided Wednesday to launch a criminal probe into Fifth Dimension on suspicion that the company fraudulently received funds from the police. 

Gantz, who headed the company but is not a suspect in the affair, charged that the investigation was an attempt to meddle in the electoral process.

Fifth Dimension dealt with the development of an artificial intelligence system that was meant to process intelligence and data related to the operations of law enforcement agencies, like the Israel Police.

According to assessments, the investigation will be opened after Israel's general election on March 2. The report that a probe will likely be opened was released by Channel 13 News on Wednesday. 

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