Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Israel Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman in front of a sign saying he is rightwing and secular, June 3, 2019.

Israel Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Liberman on Saturday said that his party intends to push for a unity government with the Likud and Blue & White, without the Haredi parties.

In an interview on Channel 13, Liberman said: “We will force a government with the Likud and with Blue & White, which will be an emergency government, a national-liberal government. And we will do everything to block the Haredim, who will not be allowed into the government.”

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Incidentally, when Liberman says “liberal” he refers to the British definition of a liberal party: open-minded, conservative-leaning. Certainly not the current liberal hashtag of US politics.

According to Liberman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “is trying to focus the campaign on who will be prime minister, I think the critical point is which government will it be.”

The former defense minister also said that the Haredim want to keep him out of the next coalition government, and that he would do everything in his power to prevent them from joining the same government.

The question is, should Liberman succeed in uniting the Likud and Blue & White in a coalition government of about 70 seats, why would Netanyahu agree to include Liberman, whom the PM has called a “serial coalition toppler?”

But if Liberman wins the 10 seats he hopes for in September with his anti-Haredi rhetoric, he may be able to sell Netanyahu on a right-center government without UTJ. Liberman would manage with Shas, despite the current bad blood between himself and Shas chairman Aryeh Deri, and he will manage with the religious Zionists, being a settler and all.

‘Say No to Halacha-Government’ – the religious leaders Liberman will refuse to join in a coalition government.

Maybe not, though, because instead of focusing just on the Ashkenazi Haredim he loathes, Liberman is running ads that target the whole lot, from Itamar Ben Gvir to Yakov Litzman (no mention of Moshe Feiglin).

Liberman posted on Facebook on Saturday night this statement: “Last week, against the background of Netanyahu’s attempts to focus the campaign on the question of who would be the next prime minister, I was amazed to see the fierce and shameful competition that developed between Gantz and Netanyahu over who would surrender and give more to the Haredim.

“The Israel Beiteinu party, in complete contrast to the Likud, believes that the most important issue the voter should consider when he comes to the ballot box is what government it will be: a halacha government or a national–liberal government.

“Under the current circumstances – the catastrophe of which the public is not yet so aware in the state budget and the anticipated security challenges – our task is to force the Likud and Blue & White to form a liberal national emergency government: Israel Beiteinu – The Likud – Blue and White.

“A government that will reflect the will of the overwhelming majority of the citizens of the State of Israel.”

Again: even if Liberman is correct (which I doubt) and the most urgent thing on the Israelis’ mind is to push the Haredim away from the state coffers, why would Netanyahu agree to include the politician who so humiliated him in the spring in the next government?

I could think of one reason: Liberman supports Netanyahu’s intentions to pass laws that will protect him from legal proceedings. That’s an amendment to the Knesset members’ immunity law, and the override act, which would frustrate the supreme court’s ability to revoke laws.

As someone who, between 1996 and 2013, had gotten himself into quite a bit of trouble with the law – without being convicted – Liberman would be only too happy to defend the prime minister from prosecution using legislation, especially if the Blue & White coalition partners would object.

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