Liberman Calls for Union With Lapid, Sa’ar and Bennett to Challenge Netanyahu; Offer Rejected

Head of the Yisrael Beytenu party MK Avigdor Liberman. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Yisrael Beytenu leader MK Avigdor Liberman called on fellow opposition party leaders to join forces and challenge Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the chareidi parties in the upcoming elections.

In a letter to Yesh Atid leader MK Yair Lapid, Yamina leader MK Naftali Bennet and former MK Gideon Sa’ar – who last week broke off from Likud to form his own party – Liberman wrote that “the establishment of a liberal, Zionist coalition is the order of the day, especially in light of the growing cooperation between Netanyahu and representatives of the Islamic movement,” alluding to the prime minister’s ties with Ra’am party leader MK Mansour Abbas.

“Such a bloc would be a true alternative to Netanyahu, and can ensure his replacement, which so many citizens want. Such an upheaval would allow Israel to achieve what the most successful countries in the world are achieving.”

The letter of MK Liberman.

Liberman acknowledged that there are differences between the parties, but said they should announce a united front, agree on several core principles and then work out their points of disagreement later.

The guiding principles Liberman proposed, which he described as basic, include legislation for limiting prime ministers to two terms of five years only and holding Knesset and municipal elections on the same day in order to reduce costs, installing a constitution and the requirement for parties to position at least three women among their top 10 candidates.

Another proposal, which seems to directly target Netanyahu, was a proposed legislation to bar any MK under indictment from being nominated to form a government or become president.

The proposed platform also includes changes to matters of religion and state: allowing civil marriages, mandatory non-religious studies in the curriculum of chareidi schools, allowing municipal Rabbis to oversee conversion, public transportation on Shabbos and mandatory military or non-military national service for all Israeli citizens.

Liberman did not call for the other parties to run under Yisrael Beytenu’s leadership, but proposed a “mechanism” for choosing the bloc’s leader and the list of candidates for the Knesset.

Political analysts note that while this all may sound good in theory, as per all the polls, a new government will need to either have the support of the chareidi parties or the Arab parties – both of which Liberman’s plan lashes out against.

Meanwhile, the recipients of his letter, which was the headline of Wednesday’s Yediot Acharonot, are seemingly in no hurry to join.

Yamina chairman Bennett said in response to Liberman’s initiative that “Yvette, the real order of the hour is to help the 800,000 unemployed people, not four politicians. There is already a plan, you are welcome to help. Your initiative is not of interest now. ”

MK Elazar Stern from Lapid’s Yesh Atid party also knocked the plan, and said to Radio 103FM that “only Lapid and Yesh Atid have proven that we can be trusted and only we can replace Netanyahu.”

Gideon Sa’ar, the third recipient, made a statement to the media at the end of his visit to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital but refused to comment on the Liberman initiative. “In order to maintain the livelihood of Israeli citizens, we need to undergo nationwide corona tests so that we do not reach a closure again,” Sa’ar said. “Corona has another six-month period and Israel’s economy and livelihood need to be maintained.”

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