On the day after the Knesset’s decision to disperse itself, the result of the failure of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to form a government, analysts and experts were pondering the whys and wherefores of the unprecedented decision to hold a second general election just months after the first. For chareidi MKs, the reason was very clear: Avigdor Liberman had a personal agenda to “get back” at Netanyahu for past slights, and he used an artificial dispute over the draft law to exact his vengeance on the prime minister.
Along the way, he insulted members of the chareidi community, chareidi political leaders, and Gedolei Yisrael – and for this, the Israeli people will not forgive him, said Deputy Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman. “The cynical use of the draft law was designed to fool the public, to incite the public against chareidim in order to benefit himself,” Rabbi Litzman said of Liberman’s tactics. “Torah learning was and will always be an important value for all Jews, and ensuring the status of yeshivah students has been a basic issue in all governments and all coalitions.
“Throughout the process we said that we could come to a compromise on the draft law,” Rabbi Litzman said. “We didn’t surprise anyone and we operated transparently and honestly.” Liberman knew all this, yet he insisted on portraying the situation as a refusal by chareidi parties to budge. By doing so, “Liberman prevented the establishment of a right-wing government, and he did it out of a personal political desire to prevent Netanyahu from forming a government, for his own reasons. He railed against the chareidi community and its leaders, making accusations on things that were never said or happened. History will judge him as the person who dragged Israel to unnecessary elections, using hatred and incitement, denying the will of the people.”
Knesset Finance Committee chairman MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni said that “under the instruction of Gedolei Yisrael we did everything possible to avoid elections. Now that we have been forced into them, we are prepared for those elections. We have been able to work with Liberman in the past, and have done so many times. He has a problem and the public needs to know this – that he hates Prime Minister Netanyahu. He spun all sorts of stories about the draft law to cover up for this.” Liberman “will not get away with this,” said Rabbi Gafni. “I know the Israeli mentality. Liberman will not pass the electoral threshold in the next election, the public will not forgive him for this.”
MK Rabbi Yisrael Eichler concurred. “Liberman’s action was a cynical attempt to twist the will of the people in order to get back at Netanyahu. I identified this trend already weeks ago, and I spoke about it everywhere I went. He planned this all along, and he incited against the chareidi community in order to pick up some more votes. He shamed Gedolei Yisrael in an unprecedented manner, and for this the public will not forgive him. B’ezras Hashem we will increase our electoral power even more than in the now-dispersed Knesset, and we will not need the favors of Liberman and others like him for the establishment of a coalition.”