Israel: Lieberman presents outline of unity government

Yisrael Beiteinu chair Avigdor Lieberman yesterday published his plan for a unity government between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, reported Haaretz.

“At the heart of Lieberman’s plan,” the paper stated, “is an initiative to hold negotiations over the formation of a governing coalition” between Yisrael Beiteinu, Likud and Blue and White (Kahol Lavan).

Lieberman’s plan demands two major compromises from both main parties; Netanyahu would have to “back out of an agreement with…[the] religious right-wing bloc”, while Gantz would have to accept that the Likud leader sits as prime minister first in the rotation agreement.

The parties in the religious right-wing bloc – Shas, United Torah Judaism and the Ayelet Shaked-led Yamina alliance – “could only join the government later on, based on understandings the three parties will reach amongst themselves”, the report stated.

Lieberman’s rotation agreement suggestion, meanwhile, is “based on a proposal introduced earlier this month by President Reuven Rivlin”.

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“According to the president’s plan, if an indictment is filed against Netanyahu while he serves as prime minister, Gantz will be handed all the official responsibilities of running the country.”

Meanwhile, with respect to policy issues, Lieberman has proposed reaching an agreement with Likud and Blue and White “to pass a law that would force ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students to draft into the military and nix a law that would keep supermarkets close on Shabbat”.

Lieberman also wants the parties to “discuss…finding a permanent solution for the situation in the Gaza Strip.”

Likud responded sceptically to Lieberman’s statement, saying the plan “doesn’t offer anything new”.

“Lieberman continues to avoid saying out loud that he and his party will vote against (and not just try to prevent) a left-wing government headed by Gantz that will rely on the Arab parties.”

Blue and White, however, welcomed Lieberman’s proposal: “We called on Likud to negotiate meaningfully…Unfortunately we have been blocked!” the party’s statement said.