Netanyahu Says Will Offer Last-Minute Proposal on Draft Law ‘to Prevent Unnecessary Elections’

YERUSHALAYIM -
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu arrives to chair the weekly cabinet meeting in Yerushalayim, Sunday. (Jim Hollander/Pool via Reuters)

In a video statement released Sunday afternoon, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that he is making a “last-ditch effort to form a right-wing government and prevent unnecessary elections.”

Netanyahu’s statement comes as talks to form a new coalition government are at a standstill, and just says before the deadline to form a coalition. Four days before the deadline, Netanyahu has yet to sign a deal with any of his prospective coalition partners.

Referring to Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu along with the Shas and United Torah Judaism parties, Netanayhu said he has offered his coalition partners a proposal for a solution to the stalemate in negotiations over the Draft Law.

“It is based on the principles established by the army and on the data that the army has determined. There is no reason to reject this [proposal],” Netanyahu says.

“I’m going to invite all party leaders for a meeting [Sunday night]. I want to talk to them so we can try together to prevent unnecessary elections.”

Earlier Sunday, Netanyahu announced during a meeting of Likud ministers that he plans to advance a bill to dissolve the 21st Knesset – less than two months after it was elected.

During that meeting, Netanyahu placed the blame for the impasse on Liberman, specifically for not willing to reach a compromise with the chareidi parties, which would pave the way for a new governing coalition.

“The chareidim moved in Liberman’s direction,” said Netanyahu. “This crisis is solveable, but I guess someone doesn’t want to compromise.

“Liberman is looking for any excuse to topple me. The public will never forgive him if he takes us to elections twice in one year,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu said that if the coalition deal is not solved by the deadline on Wednesday at 11:59 p.m., the country will head to elections.

“If there will be no choice,” he noted, “we’ll pass a law dissolving the Knesset on Wednesday.”

Media reports signaled that the Likud was poised to open its campaign headquarters and cancel party primaries in anticipation of a new election – but the party said it was still hopeful for a breakthrough.

The Shas party responded to Avigdor Liberman’s statements: “Unfortunately, Mr. Liberman is not telling the truth about the Draft Law, and he is using it as an excuse to topple the right-wing government … There was never an agreement on behalf of Shas to pass the Draft Law without a change of “any word or comma” – as Liberman has suggested.

“There is no bill or law that passes the second and third readings without any changes or adjustments.

“It is astonishing to see that Lieberman, who is seemingly worried for military service and who in the past boasted that only he “knows how to speak Arabic,” does not refer to the Arab sector, which does not serve at all and receives billions of shekels.

“Lieberman, who has raised his concern for a “halachic state,” knew very well how to cooperate with the chareidi public and asked their support to help vote in Moshe Lion for mayor of Yerushalayim, including in the previous election campaign, when he was running against secular candidate Nir Barkat. And now, Lion was elected mainly because of the chareidi vote, and Yerushalayim has not become a “halachic state.”

The Shas statement calls on Liberman to show responsibility. “Please do not drag Israel into civil war. Remove your hands from the incitement against a large public and fulfill your commitment to establish a right-wing government.”

In an interview Sunday, Liberman told Kan public broadcaster that “Netanyahu’s accusations and threats against me do not bring me closer to wanting to negotiate, to say the least.”