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May 27, 2019 3:26 pm

With Potential of New Elections Looming Amid Coalition Talks Crisis, Netanyahu Urges Lieberman to ‘Wake Up and Do the Right Thing’

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures during a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, April 14, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Ronen Zvulun / File.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a major crisis in ongoing coalition negotiations on Monday evening, calling on all parties, and especially Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman, to “wake up and do the right thing.”

Coalition talks have been stalled for days due to Lieberman’s refusal to accede to an agreement with the ultra-Orthodox parties on legislation regarding the enlistment of yeshiva students into the military. Lieberman said earlier Monday that his party would not become a collaborator with a “halachic state.”

As the talks remain at an impasse, another round of elections is increasingly likely. A bill to disperse the Knesset and call new elections passed a preliminary reading just before Netanyahu spoke.

Speaking from the Knesset building, Netanyahu told the press, “A month and a half ago, the people had its say: They want the establishment of a right-wing government under my leadership. In the last few days, I made enormous efforts to realize the will of the people: to form a right-wing government and prevent superfluous, expensive and wasteful elections.”

“The solution,” Netanyahu said of the current crisis, “is right in front of us.”

Netanyahu described this solution as an deal to draft the ultra-Orthodox according to the IDF’s own specifications.

“The argument here is cosmetic, its semantic,” he said. “You don’t go to elections because of cosmetics.”

“There are excellent solutions,” Netanyahu asserted, “if there is the desire, if there is the willingness, everything can be solved in two minutes.”

“Unfortunately, up until now, including this evening, I haven’t succeeded in convincing Avigdor Lieberman to prevent elections,” he admitted. “But everyone who looks at the reality knows that we have to display responsibility and form a government immediately.”

Netanyahu then quoted a recent tweet by President Donald Trump in which the president said, “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!”

Netanyahu emphasized the final line and said, “We have innumerable things to do.”

“I expect that the good of the state will overcome every other consideration,” the prime minister stated. “I expect that the good of the state will overcome every other interest. And that’s how I conduct myself. This simply isn’t the way.”

“There is still time,” he added. “I will continue to work in every way in the time left in order to form the government in the next few days. I call on Avigdor Lieberman to think twice. There is still 48 hours left. It’s possible to do a lot in 48 hours.”

“I hope people will wake up and do the right thing,” he concluded.

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