Lieberman: We Will Aim for Government With Gantz and Likud, Exclude the ultra-Orthodox

Ex-defense minister vows to do everything he can to prevent the ultra-Orthodox parties from entering the government

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

Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman said Saturday evening that his party intends to promote a unity government with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party and Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan, in order to exclude the ultra-Orthodox parties.

In an interview with Channel 13, he said: "We will aim for a government with Likud and with Kahol Lavan, and that will be an emergency government, a national-liberal government." 

 "We will do everything to limit the Haredim, so that they won't enter the government," Lieberman added.

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According to Lieberman, Netanyahu is "trying to focus his campaign around who will be prime minister. I think the critical point is what kind of government it will be." The former defense minister also said that the ultra-Orthodox would like to join a government without him, and that he will do everything he can in order to prevent them from joining the next coalition.

Kahol Lavan responded to Lieberman's statement, saying that if the former defense minister had reached this conclusion before his party voted to dissolve the Knesset, "the people of Israel would have been absolved from a redundant election."

Likud, meanwhile, blasted Lieberman for "saying he is willing to force a left-wing government. Whoever wishes to see a right-wing government must vote for us."

Nonetheless, the party acknowledged that a unity government is necessary for Israel, adding that they should be the ones to lead it.

On Tuesday, Lieberman told the Ynet news site that he would not commit to endorsing Netanyahu in the upcoming elections in September. "I have no commitment to crown Netanyahu," Lieberman said. "My first commitment is first of all that the right-wing wins, [and] secondly that a liberal national government be established, not an ultra-Orthodox" and national-religious government. 

At the end of May, Netanyahu was unable to form a government after the April 9 elections. By the time the deadline for him to present a coalition arrived, the prime minister failed to bridge differences between the ultra-Orthodox parties and Lieberman, who were at odds over the conscription of ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students.

The government voted to dissolve itself and return to the polls. After the Knesset vote, Netanyahu accused Lieberman of being "obsessed" with toppling the prime minister's right-wing government.