By Throwing a Wrench in Coalition-Building, Avigdor Liberman Shows Disdain for the Will of the People

May 30, 2019 | Amnon Lord
About the author: Amnon Lord is an editor and columnist at the Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon and an editor at the online magazine Mida. His books (in Hebrew) include The Israeli Left: From Socialism to Nihilism (2003) and, most recently, The Lost Generation: The Story of the Yom Kippur War (2013).

Since Benjamin Netanyahu’s deadline for forming a government passed last night, Israel is now headed to new elections. The impasse came about because the demands of the ultra-Orthodox parties and the right-wing-but-secular Yisrael Beytenu party were diametrically opposed—and Netanyahu needs both to join his government in order to get the requisite number of Knesset seats. Amnon Lord blames the intransigence of Yisrael Beytenu’s leader, Avigdor Liberman, who, he argues, has not sufficiently respected the fact that the voters overwhelmingly cast their ballots for right-wing parties and should therefore have a right-wing government:

Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party lacks any democratic tradition and has no respect for election outcomes and no regard for the people’s verdict. In fact, we now live in a world in which all those forces who say they want to defend democracy are trying to undermine the will of the voters.

Liberman never called Netanyahu to congratulate him for his victory, as far as I know; he never asked Netanyahu how he could help him, and he could not care less about the fact Netanyahu was elected. . . . Yes, he said that Netanyahu’s main rival, the Blue and White party chairman Benny Gantz, was unfit to serve as prime minister, and said he would never serve in his government. . . . Liberman could have broken the impasse and joined forces with the prime minister so that they could deliver on what the people want them to do.

Truth be told, Liberman’s campaign pledges—ranging from civil marriage and the drafting of Ḥaredim [into the IDF] all the way to being tough on Gaza—didn’t quite help him win votes. The crisis he has generated . . . is perhaps his way of leveraging his poor electoral showing to the maximum.

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