”We will have 61 seats without [Benjamin] Netanyahu” and the ultra-Orthodox parties, says Yisrael Beiteinu head Avigdor Lieberman.
Yisrael Beiteinu head Avigdor Lieberman declared on Wednesday that following Israel’s March 2 election, the next government will be formed without Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Speaking at the Maariv business conference in Herzliya, Lieberman discussed the political impasse that has led to Israel’s third general election in less than 12 months and possible ways of solving it.
Referring to the Sept. 17 election, Lieberman said, “I told them both they should form a unity government, but they preferred to argue about who would serve first and who would serve second [as prime minister under a rotation agreement], which is how we got dragged into another election. Next time, I’m making no commitments. I’m always transparent and try to say from the get-go what my commitments are.”
If a unity deal was out of the question, said Lieberman, then so was Netanyahu.
“There is no more unity government. It’s clear that with the two of them, we can’t build anything. So we are preparing ourselves, and are ready for the day after. We will have 61 seats without Netanyahu” and ultra-Orthodox MKs Aryeh Deri (Shas) and Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism).
“We want a liberal, secular coalition, and I think it’s extremely likely. Everyone is sick of Netanyahu. All the Likud faction members are sick of him. If there were a secret vote, he would only get six seats. We will only join a national unity government,” said Lieberman.
According to the Yisrael Beiteinu leader, Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz would win a combined 65 seats.
Lieberman said he was being asked why he ruled out joining a coalition with the Joint Arab List.
“There is one reason: It is a list comprised of supporters of terrorism. Let’s discuss the facts and then everyone can draw their own conclusions. The facts are clear: Not a single member of the Joint Arab List attended Shimon Peres’s funeral, but that same week they visited the grave of [late PLO leader Yasser]Arafat in Ramallah,” he said.
“The Joint Arab List condemned the United States for the targeted attack on arch-murderer [Iranian Quds Force commander] Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who murdered more people than any person in the 21st century. Joint Arab List leader Ayman Odeh personally condemned the Arab League for putting Hezbollah on a list of terrorist organizations.”
When asked if he wanted to return to his former position as defense minister in the next government, Lieberman answered, “I want to establish public transportation on Shabbat and funding for an independent school system. I want clear basic policies. As far as being prime minister … it was an option, never an obsession, for me. With God’s help, let’s get rid of Deri, Litzman and [UTJ MK Moshe] Gafni, and build a government without Netanyahu. Everything else will come later.”
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.