If anyone has any doubt, be assured the election campaign is underway. While the Yisrael Beitenu party ran with Likud in the last election, it will be running on its own this time around. That has made the party fair game for Likud, which has already begun campaigning against Bayit Yehudi, warning voters a vote for that party will result in the formation of a left-wing coalition government.
In a Shabbos cultural event party leader Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman explains that he respects Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. He points out that he has worked with him for many years and Mr. Netanyahu has been elected to the post of prime minister three times, while it is difficult for one to achieve this once.
Lieberman does not hide differences but insists one cannot disqualify aligning with another party based on personality issues and therefore he does not rule out working with Labor opposition party leader Yitzchak Herzog of the Likud.
Likud on the other hand is not as benevolent, telling voters Lieberman will enter a coalition with Labor, a left-wing government and that is why one my not vote for that party.
Lieberman was silent last week when attack as he was sitting shiva for his mother. At the Shabbos event however he fired back, criticizing the prime minister’s handling of Operation Protective Edge and relations with the USA. Regarding the counter-terrorism operation in Gaza, Lieberman explained the prime minister failed to maintain the initiative but was dragged into the fighting by Hamas. He stressed that maintaining the initiative but this was not the case and instead of leading, Israel was dragged into a situation by Hamas.
Lieberman’s criticism of the government’s handling of the warfare in Gaza during the summer was received with anger by both Likud and Bayit Yehudi, and both parties fire back at the foreign minister, denying the accuracy of his accusations.
Lieberman explained that for his party, it ran on its won three times and twice with other parties. In 1999 Yisrael Beitenu earned 4 seats; 11 in the next election and 15 in 2005. When it ran with Ichud Leumi it only received 7 and with Likud in the last election, 13. Therefore he explained he prefers to go it alone and then probe possible alignments and coalition options.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)