Analysts: Liberman Plan Heralds Third Election

Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman.
(Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

As promised, Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman published his own solution to the coalition crisis – but senior political officials said Thursday that it was unlikely to bridge the gap between the Likud and the Blue and White parties. Sources quoted by Yediot Acharonot said that “the publication of this plan changes very little, and the likelihood is high that elections will take place. The Likud does not intend to give up its rightwing bloc of support, and Blue and White is unlikely to go back on its commitment not to sit in a government under Binyamin Netanyahu as long as he is under suspicion.”

A senior MK in one of the chareidi parties was quoted as saying that the Liberman plan offered nothing new. “We are on the way to a third election. We need a miracle to establish a government based on the way the Knesset appears now. But the plan espoused by Liberman indicates that he has only one plan in mind – the Rivlin plan, and his party joining in. For that plan and a unity government, neither Gantz nor Netanyahu needs him.” Writing in a social media post Wednesday night, Yamina MK Betzalel Smotrich said that “someone should explain to Liberman that in a unity government between Blue and White and the Likud, he is not necessary, and no one really wants him in it.”

The Liberman plan entails accepting the compromise plan proposed by President Reuven Rivlin, with the Likud entering into a coalition with Blue and White, without its rightwing partners. Yisrael Beytenu would be included in the government. The Rivlin plan entails a unity government between the Likud and Blue and White, as well as any other parties that care to join, based on whether they are in the right or left bloc. Ministries would be split down the middle between the blocs, and Netanyahu and Gantz would enter a rotation agreement for the prime minister’s seat, with Netanyahu going first. If State Attorney Avichai Mandelblit recommends indictments after the hearing process going on now over the corruption cases Netanyahu is implicated in, the prime minister will suspend himself until the issues are resolved legally. At that point, Gantz will become acting prime minister.

According to Liberman’s plan, the three parties would develop policies on security, religion and state, health, economy and other matters, with practical solutions for the specific issues raised, such as what to do about ongoing terror in Gaza, how to deal with the country’s deficit, what the proper formula for the chareidi draft would be, and other issues. The official government platform would consist of policies that all three parties could agree to, with other issues to be hammered out later on. Any party willing to accept the coalition’s basic platform would be welcome to join the government. With the establishment of a coalition, the government’s first order of business will be passing the 2020 state budget, and development of a ten-year plan for the IDF.

Liberman said that this was the only plan that would work. “This plan will establish a stable government, assuming all those involved will be able to overcome their personal objections and ambitions. To clarify, Yisrael Beytenu will not join a narrow coalition, either with a rightwing-chareidi government or a leftwing government supported by traitors [the United Arab List] from outside the coalition.”

In response, the Likud said that the plan shows that “Liberman does not reject supporting a leftwing government headed by Benny Gantz that relies on Arab MKs. He only said that he would not join such a government, but he refuses to say that he will oppose it.”

In its own statement, Blue and White lauded the plan, saying that it saw “Yisrael Beytenu and its chairman Avigdor Liberman a partner for the coalition that will be established, which we hope will be soon. Immediately after the election we asked the Likud to enter into serious negotiations with us before any policy decisions were made. Unfortunately, our request was answered with a bloc.”

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