Avigdor Liberman to decide Israel's next step after Netanyahu-Gantz meet fails

UPI Politics 2 weeks ago

Nov. 20 (UPI) -- It appears that it will be up to Israeli politician Avigdor Liberman Wednesday whether there will be a new coalition government -- or yet another election.

The leader of the influential Yisrael Beytenu Party, Liberman is expected to decide whether to support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or opposition leader Benny Gantz, or neither.

Netanyahu and Gantz failed to produce a new unity government after meeting late Tuesday in a last-ditch effort before a deadline Wednesday.

Liberman has urged Netanyahu's Likud Party and Gantz's Blue and White Party to compromise -- and the two leaders have attempted to win his support, which is key in forming a new government coalition. If Liberman supports neither, Israel would likely be headed for its third election in less than a year.

Netanyahu was first given the task of forming a coalition by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin after neither party won enough Knesset seats in September to create a majority government. When he failed, Gantz was given the same mandate. He faces a deadline Wednesday night.

Netanyahu and Gantz have blamed each other for failed unity talks and called on Liberman to support their minority coalitions.

Netanyahu made clear Wednesday he is not interested in any scenario that sees him vacate his current post as leader of Israel.

"Unfortunately, during our meeting last night, Benny Gantz refused to accept the president's outline that I, as prime minister, will be the first in rotation for the premiership," he said of a proposal that would make he and Gantz co-prime ministers.

Gantz, meanwhile, has rejected the right-wing-religious bloc built by Netanyahu for his coalition, saying a unity government "cannot be built on a sectoral bloc."

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