Liberman: Netanyahu Has Only Himself to Blame for Crisis

YERUSHALAYIM -
Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks during his Yisrael Beytenu party faction meeting at the Knesset, Monday. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

If Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is unable to form a government, he has only himself to blame, Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman said Monday. “The Likud is trying to make it seem like I have a personal agenda here, that I am trying to get back at someone,” Liberman said of his refusal to accept the Likud’s compromise on the draft law. “We made our stance clear throughout the negotiations. Our position on the draft law is a basic one, and the Likud is afraid that Israelis will understand this.”

Liberman was speaking prior to the vote on the first reading of a bill to disperse the just-elected Knesset. Liberman said that Yisrael Beytenu would vote for it. “The failure of Netanyahu to form a government is a colossal one. He has not signed a coalition agreement with even one potential partner. Instead of admitting his failure, the Likud is trying to blame us” for the failure to form a government. The blame was squarely on Netanyahu’s shoulders; “the current government-in-waiting is not a right-wing government, but a government of Halachah. We will not be a party to the establishment of a halachic government,” Liberman said.

Liberman said he and his party would vote for the Knesset’s dispersal, and would not recommend anyone else for the job of prime minister. That “anyone else” would be Benny Gantz, who, speaking at at a press conference prior to Liberman’s remarks, said that he deserved a shot at establishing a government. “Netanyahu is leading us to a crisis of confidence. He is seeking a legal shelter to protect himself from the threats of the law. With his obsession on keeping his position, Netanyahu is the one element preventing the establishment of a unity government.”

If another Likud candidate would step forward to form a government, Blue and White would join it, Gantz said, and barring that, President Rivlin should give him an opportunity to establish a government. In any event, he said, Blue and White would vote against dispersal of the Knesset.

In response to Liberman’s comments, the Likud said that all the coalition partners had indicated they would sign the coalition agreement as negotiated with all parties “the second that Liberman signs it. We invited Liberman to join us today and not to allow the fall of a right-wing government.”

As Gantz and Liberman were making their statements, the final preparations were being made to the proposal to disperse the Knesset that is set to be put forth later Monday by MK Miki Zohar. Netanyahu on Monday afternoon signed on as a sponsor of the bill. The law will be placed on a legislative “fast track,” with a vote on its first reading set for Monday night. The bill will then be rushed through committee, readying it for its second and third reading Wednesday – the day Netanyahu must report to Rivlin on whether he has succeeded in forming a government.