While the Knesset special committee has already approved the bill to dissolve the Knesset for second and third readings in the plenum, a number of mediators are trying to bridge between Prime Minister Netanyahu, Israel Beiteinu chairman Liberman and the Haredi parties in an attempt to reach a breakthrough on the IDF draft law which has stalled the coalition negotiations.
The final vote on the dispersion of the Knesset is expected to begin at noon on Wednesday. Should it be approved, going to new elections would terminate the negotiations for a new government, and Netanyahu would continue as a caretaker PM. By midnight, he must inform President Reuven Rivlin if he succeeded in forming a government.
Judging by the unbridled attacks of senior Likud officials against Liberman, it appears the chances of his joining a Netanyahu coalition government are not high.
MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) told Army Radio Wednesday morning: “Israel Beiteinu will disappear in the next elections if the country has to go to new elections again because of Liberman. His voter is not stupid. Liberman may reach a situation where he would no longer exist.”
Metaphorically speaking only, of course. MK Hotovely is not a violent person.
She also argued that “giving the chance to form a government to another person from our party would be a mechanism to bypass the democracy,” she said, referring to numerous suggestions in Israel’s media that any other Likud MK could break the stalemate between Liberman and the Haredim in half an hour – meaning Liberman’s objections are not about the Haredim, he just wants Bibi out.
Minister Ze’ev Elkin claimed that Liberman is no longer part of the rightwing bloc in the Knesset (which is sheer nonsense – Liberman is merely an odd bird in Israeli politics, and so is Elkin).
The head of the Israel Beiteinu’s negotiating team, MK Oded Furer, slammed the Likud Wednesday morning, declaring: “The [Likud] party I know is disappearing. The behavior of its people in the negotiations has shown that this is not the Likud of the national camp, but that it would sell out everything for another minute of power.”
Furer made it clear that his party demanded the approval of the draft law in its current language – or it’s new elections for them.
“If people have not yet understood that we are a faction with principles and that we will not give them up, they have a problem in comprehension,” he said, and advised Likud: “Instead of putting pressure on us, let them use it on the Haredi factions, to abstain from the vote on the draft law.”
The above is factually correct, should the Haredim merely wish to be on the record as not approving the draft when it comes to their yeshiva students. But as it turns out, the Haredim, on the order of the Gerer Rebbe, want to kill the law.
MK Liberman wrote on his Facebook page Wednesday morning: “Even I, Avigdor Liberman, who has been in Israeli politics for many years and thought he had seen everything, was astonished in the last two days by the intensity of the pressures, interpretations and speculations I had been exposed to almost minute by minute.”
Referencing his temporary ally, Kulanu chairman Moshe Kahlon, who succumbed to reality and took his party back into the ranks of the Likud, Liberman stated that “Israel Beiteinu has no intention of joining the Likud, not as a faction, not as individuals, and not to become immersed in the ruling party.”
“At the same time,” he noted, responding to accusations that he was no longer a right-winger, “we have no intention of giving up our principles and commitments to our constituents. Therefore, [our insistence regarding] the draft law is neither a caprice nor an ego game nor revenge, but the cornerstone of our normative ideology.”