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September 17, 2019 7:34 pm

Apparent Kingmaker Lieberman Says ‘Emergency Situation’ Requires Unity Government With Likud, Blue and White

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Avigdor Lieberman, leader of Yisrael Beitenu party speaks following the announcement of exit polls in Israel’s parliamentary election at his party headquarters in Jerusalem, Sept. 17, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Oren Ben Hakoon.

Leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu party Avigdor Lieberman, who according to exit polls will play the kingmaker in the coalition negotiations following Israel’s Tuesday elections, said that he would accept only one outcome — a national unity government.

The exit polls show that Lieberman’s secular-nationalist party has won 8-10 seats in the next Knesset, with the right-wing Likud and centrist Blue and White parties essentially tied at around 30 seats and the right-religious and center-left blocs hovering around 55 seats, giving neither side a working majority without him.

Lieberman addressed his supporters Tuesday night and appeared to flex his muscles, saying, “There is only one option: a broad liberal government made up of the Likud, Blue and White and Yisrael Beiteinu.”

“We have always said that a unity government is possible only in an emergency situation, and I say to every citizen that is watching us now on television — the situation, security-wise and economically, is an emergency situation,” Lieberman said.

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Lieberman called on President Reuven Rivlin not to wait for the final results to name someone to undertake coalition negotiations, saying the president should “invite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz to an informal conversation as early as Friday.”

“The state needs a broad government,” Lieberman asserted, “even a unity government without us is preferable to dealing with endless negotiations.”

Israel, he said, did not need “a government fighting for its survival from week to week.”

Lieberman prevented Netanyahu from forming a government after elections in April when his demands for religious reforms were not met, forcing a second round of voting. The exit polls indicate that he succeeded in doubling the number of seats he controls in the Knesset.

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