An ultimatum by Yisrael Beytenu’s Avigdor Liberman, demanding that both Likud and Blue and White compromise and form a government based on the framework outlined by President Reuven Rivlin – on pain of his party’s supporting the rival that did not compromise – is an empty threat, Likud officials said Motzoei Shabbos. “He is brandishing a gun but he’s firing blanks,” the officials were quoted as saying by Yisrael Hayom. “It’s an act of desperation, because he doesn’t want new elections, and he realizes the only alternative for him is to support a government formed by Gantz that would rely on the Arab parties, which would be a death blow for his party.”
Liberman gave his ultimatum Motzoei Shabbos in an interview on Channel 12. “There is only one way to a unity government – Netanyahu has to separate himself from his messianic-chareidi coalition, and Gantz has to accept the framework proposed by President Rivlin. If they do not make the right choice, we will support the other side.”
The framework outlined by President Reuven Rivlin 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.
In response to the ultimatum, Likud sources said in a statement that there was “nothing new in what Liberman said, and meanwhile he is the only one who is not compromising on anything. Netanyahu will not leave the bloc of 55 right-wing MKs.” Blue and White, meanwhile, said that the Likud was at fault because it refused to promise that Netanyahu would step down as prime minister if he was indicted. According to Israeli electoral law, a sitting prime minister is only required to resign if he is convicted of a crime.