Former Israeli Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman has said a unity government is the only option to get out of the current political deadlock, local media reported. In an interview with Radio Kan Bet on Wednesday, Lieberman who is leader of the party Yisrael Beiteinu, which is seen as playing a pivotal role in forming a coalition government, stressed that he is not willing to form a minority government with the Joint List alliance, comprised predominantly of Arab parties, calling it a fifth column.
Uncertainty has gripped Israel following two inconclusive elections in April and September. Since incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government, President Reuven Rivlin has tasked Benny Gantz, leader of centrist Kahol Lavan alliance (Blue and White) with this mission. However, negotiations are proceeding at a slow pace with each side accusing the other of stalling the talks.
Avigdor Lieberman accused Netanyahu of dragging Israel into a third election, while the Blue and White alliance said they see no substance in talks with Netanyahu’s Likud. For its part, Likud has accused Blue and White of seeking to form a minority government with the party’s chief negotiator Yariv Levin saying: “this is apparently fake negotiations".
Sticking Points in Negotiations
Blue and White has repeatedly said it would not be in a coalition with a prime minister facing corruption charges. PM Netanyahu has been accused of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust a claim he denies. Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is expected to announce whether he will indict the prime minister. Another stumbling block in talks between the two parties is a presidental plan on rotating leadership between the leaders of Likud and Blue and White.
Despite these difficulties in negotiations, the head of Blue and White Benny Gantz seemed positive that the sides will be able reach a breakthrough.
“I cannot go into extensive detail about what came up during my talks with faction leaders, including those who comprise part of the right-wing bloc. I can only tell you that the picture being portrayed by the media is not necessarily accurate", Gantz wrote on his Facebook page.
Gantz has until 21 November to form a government. If he fails to do that then the Parliament will be given 21 days to choose a new PM and if that doesn’t work Israel will head to the polls again. This will be the third this year.