Israel was in an unprecedented political impasse Tuesday as the Knesset pressed forward with legislation to dissolve itself in a high-stakes showdown that could lead to another snap election.
Prime Minister Netanyahu had appeared to have secured a fresh mandate to rule after last month’s election, with a clear path to build a coalition government with his traditional political partners. But a shocking crisis with his longtime ally and erstwhile rival Avigdor Lieberman has thrust the country into unchartered territory.
Netanyahu has until late Wednesday to present his new coalition or else Israel’s largely ceremonial president can task someone else with the job. But the prime minister seems to have no intention of letting that happen and is threatening another election instead.
Backed by Netanyahu, the first of three motions required to dissolve parliament passed early Tuesday with a 66-44 majority, and a tentative election date was set for Sept. 17.
Negotiations are expected to continue right up till the final deadline. But if no compromise is found, Israel will likely go to elections for the second time this year — something that has never happened before.
Hoping things will work out with Israel's coalition formation and Bibi and I can continue to make the alliance between America and Israel stronger than ever. A lot more to do!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2019
Though Netanyahu’s Likud party increased its power to 35 seats in Knesset in the Apr. 9 vote, it cannot muster a 61-seat majority without Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party.
The Likud has assailed Lieberman in recent days for undermining the people’s will of a right-wing government and accused him of acting out of personal spite for Netanyahu. The prime minister himself said Lieberman would be fully responsible for dragging the country to an “expensive, wasteful” election and his people have vowed to aggressively go after Lieberman’s core supporters in response.
[Yahadut Hatorah Meets to Decide its List Should Elections Be Held]
But the mercurial Lieberman seems to be holding his ground.
“The only motivation of Yisrael Beiteinu is to stand by our principles and our commitments,” he said in a Facebook post. “We are not looking to topple Netanyahu and are not looking for an alternative candidate, but we will not compromise.”
Netanyahu met with Lieberman on Monday night in the hope of reaching agreement, but the meeting ended in deadlock.
Meanwhile, Maariv is reporting that officials in the Prime Minister’s Office have reached out to the White House to assist is establishing a coalition. Netanyahu is hopeful that Jason Greenblatt or Jared Kushner can reach out to Liberman to pressure him to reach a compromise on the IDF draft law, join the coalition, and prevent elections.
[Finance Ministry: Elections Will Cost NIS 475 Million]
Liberman on Tuesday dismissed the claims made by Likud about the Chareidi parties being “amazingly flexible” about the IDF draft law, calling it “a scam and not flexibility.”
“The issue of the draft law only a symptom of the Chareidi community’s extremism, which among other things includes the closure of supermarkets on Shabbos, shutting down construction on the Yehudit Bridge on weekends and attempts to close the ticket office at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo on Saturdays,” Liberman said.
On Monday night, Netanyahu also with representatives of the chareidi parties, former minister Ariel Atias of Shas and Moti Babchik, personal assistant to Deputy Minister Yaakov Litzman.
Natan Eshel, a member of the Likud negotiating team, took part in a meeting that lasted for a long time, with Eshel presenting some ideas for ending the political crisis in order to prevent elections.
[MERGER: Kahlon Confirms His Kulanu Party Will Run With Likud If New Elections Called]
The ideas raised in the meetings were mainly about the difficult political dispute between the chareidim and Lieberman regarding IDF recruitment. Walla News reports that the meeting was held in a good atmosphere, and while agreement was not reached, it did somewhat reduce the chance of new elections. Talks were expected to continue on Tuesday.
The coalition crisis shines a spotlight on the 60-year-old Lieberman, one of the most influential and unpredictable politicians in Israel. The tough-talking, Moldovan-born Lieberman started out as a top aide to Netanyahu during his first term in office in the 1990s before embarking on a political career of his own. Since then, he has known his ups and downs with his former boss in stints in various ministries, including as foreign minister and defense minister.
[Yanki Kanievsky Meets with Avigdor Lieberman To Try And Persuade Him]
A staunch nationalist, he has faced long-standing accusations of racism for branding Arab lawmakers as enemies of the state and advocating for population swaps in a future peace deal that would leave many Arab citizens outside Israel’s borders.
But Lieberman, who still speaks in a thick, monotonous Russian accent, also champions a secular agenda aimed toward his political base of immigrants from the former Soviet Union and has pledged to confront efforts of ultra-Orthodox parties to coerce religion on the secular Israelis.
Another mediator between Netanyahu and Lieberman is Shmuel Hayek, a London-based businessman who is very close to Yisrael Beiteinu. Hayek returned to Israel Monday night in a last attempt to solve the crisis of the establishment of the government. Hayek left the country last weekend after the explosion in contacts between the sides and was called to help solve the crisis. Other attempts are expected to bring Netanyahu and Lieberman together again, in the presence of the mediator, Hayek.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein has placed the bill to dissolve the Knesset on the docket for Wednesday, so if a new coalition is not formed by the deadline, the second and third readings of the bill can take place, and once that bill is passed, efforts to form a coalition end and new elections will become reality. The Special Committee announced on Monday that the date for new elections will be September 17, 2019, 17 Elul. The chareidi parties are calling to move up the date to August, not wishing to interfere with the Elul zman in yeshivos.
(AP / YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)
Lieberman is a RASHA GAMUR (one wonders why we in the US spent so much time and money working to help free Soviet Jews). He has no Cheilek in Olam Haba. He is making a war on HaShem and His Torah IN ERETZ YISRAEL. Read this week’s Parsha to see what happens when Jews make war on Hashem in Eretz Yisrael.
Do we really want US administration officials – if that’s what Jared Kushner is – kibbitzing – or arm-twisting – in Israeli politics? I don’t live there, but I don’t like Russians kibbitzing – or sabotaging – elections where I live – the US – and I don’t think it’s wise for non-Israelis – even Jewish ones – to interfere in Israeli elections.
And just to be clear, I have no preference for Israeli prime minister, and my Israeli relatives have not sought my generally fabulous advice.
“and I don’t think it’s wise for non-Israelis – even Jewish ones – to interfere in Israeli elections.”
Obama was great trying to interfere in Israel’s election, right?
And this is to build a coalition not an election
Liberman is the perfect example of hatred against judaism and religious people, if he would have more power he would force all yeshiva bochurim go to the army and oppress those who protest against it. Horrible person.
Yussel, I am in no way agreeing with Lieberman, but your comment is totally off you totally and completely do not see the big picture. I am that Russian Jew Orthodox and living in America.
The religious parties are making a fatal error…..this is a one-time opportunity to compromise and lock-in some type of “alternative public service” option approved by their rabbonim for bochurim who don’t want to serve in the IDF but still share the burden of national service. If there is a new election and the Blue/White win the right to form a government, the jails will be filled with draft evaders.
Avigdor Lieberman is a kitrug & a Rasha Lahachis. If it goes to elections I think the right will get enough seats that they won’t need Lieberman to join the coalition.
Or there could be another possible move from the chareidim- perhaps if all those who did not vote bec. they don’t like the current chareidi parties (peleg etc) will now see what happens when the chareidim are missing just a bit more power. The chareidi population could easily vote in enough seats to make Lieberman irrelevant. Their lack of voting is what put Lieberman in the driver’s seat
Mark my word:- Avigdor Lieberman is about to suffer the fate of Stalin on Purim 1953, if he doesn’t get his act together immediately, and time shall not be on Lieberman’s side, to avoid such a fate. Shabbos knows how to take care of itself, and those who fight her.
Tzvia: I am NOT totally off. Lieberman is just the tip of the iceberg. All those Soviet Jews who claimed they wanted to live free as Jews and not be persecuted in the USSR were just looking for a way out so they could live secular lives and make money. Friends of mine went to jail in America as a result of their protests against the USSR and the way I see it their sacrifices were for nothing. Lieberman and his kind went to Israel and want to pollute it with secularism. But that is not enough for him!! He also wants to wipe out religion in Israel. For that he could have stayed in the USSR and lived a secular life.. OH WAIT! then he could not make $$ in the former Workers Paradise.
Yussel, your comment about wondering why we tried to save Soviet Jewry is horrible! How can you say that?! Of course Lieberman is a terrible Rosho, but that doesn’t mean we should not have fought to save every single Yid behind the iron curtain. We wanted to save their lives! Everyone knew that many, if not most, were not frum. That makes no difference. We were and are obligated in Pidyon Shvuyim if a Yid’s life is in danger or even unpleasant. What he decides to to with his life after freedom is his bechirah. Even if the Russians didn’t all become frum, they also didn’t all turn in to Sonei Torah like Lieberman
Lieberman Is very aware that if he comes back to his crowd without major concessions he will fade into insignificance now he’s going to matter for years to come
you mean to retroactively recommend ” Let My People Go” was mistaken
and we all ought to, as Distinguished people suggested,pushed for “let my people live as Jews” First in USSR?
Can someone explain how exactly Israeli elections work.
Any time they have a problem forming a government they just call for reelection?
How does that make sense
its called shuffling the deck