Lieberman: If Either Netanyahu, Gantz Don’t Agree on Unity Terms, We’ll Back Other Candidate

Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman on Saturday said that should either Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud and Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan refuse to accept his terms for a unity government, his party would back the other candidate in forming a government.

Speaking during an interview on Channel 12 News, Lieberman said he plans to ask both men to compromise in order to avoid a third election. He would request that Gantz accept the outline proposed by President Reuven Rivlin for a unity government, and that Netanyahu dismantle the 55-seat right-wing bloc supporting him.

Lieberman said he would support whoever capitulates to his demand. 

The former defense minister also eschewed a commitment that he would not support Gantz in a minority government with the Arab-majority parties, nor a Netanyahu one with the ultra-Orthodox — a scenario which he was vehemently against during the recent election campaign.

In regard to Shas Chairman Arye Dery's proposition that a direct election be held for prime minister, Lieberman said that at this stage his party does not support such a move. Lieberman said that though he is in favor of direct elections, he is opposed to the idea that such a move be legislated through an expedited process. "With all my love for the direct election law, it's a law that requires many hours of work and completion. At the moment, there's no chance we will support a law for direct election," Lieberman said.

Rivlin's outline for a unity government dictates that Netanyahu would be the first to act as prime minister for the first two years in a rotation agreement. Should he be indicted, Netanyahu would go on an unlimited leave of absence in which he would retain the official title of premier, even if de facto authority is transferred to his replacement, Gantz. However, the Kahol Lavan leader has rejected this proposal in the past.

Earlier this week, Hayamin Hehadash chairwoman Ayelet Shaked met with Lieberman in an attempt to convince him to join Netanyahu's right-wing bloc in order to avoid another election. If he agrees, Shaked promised on several occassions, he would be awarded with great achievements.