Replacing Netanyahu Is Critical, but Not by Working With ‘Racist’ Lieberman, Arab Lawmakers Say

The ultimatum set before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his political rival Benny Gantz by Avigdor Lieberman was met with fierce opposition on both sides of the political spectrum on Sunday, as right-wingers defied the Yisrael Beiteinu leader's call to dismantle their bloc and Arab lawmakers pushed back against the idea of cooperating with the ultra-nationalist Lieberman.

Netanyahu said on Sunday that he is willing to meet with Lieberman this week, regardless of the ultimatum. "Lieberman is striving to form a minority government of the left that will be backed by Ayman Odeh and Ahmad Tibi, and will depend on them every day, and in everything," said Netanyahu. He also added that he still hopes to hear Lieberman clearly state his opposition of a coalition with the Joint List.  

"Lieberman seems to be in tune with the Joint List and with Kahol Lavan, and thus the ultimatum he gave to both parties…is actually an ultimatum for Likud only," said Netanyahu. 

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Netanyahu added that Lieberman "clearly states" that he will not allow Likud to form a narrow government with Shas, United Torah Judaism and Yamina, and will vote against it. However, "he does not say to Kahol Lavan that he will vote against them if they attempt to form a government with the support of the Joint List," he adds.  

Israel Culture Minister Miri Regev and Communications Minister David Amsalem expressed strong opposition against breaking the right-wing bloc for the sake of forming a unity government with opposition head Benny Gantz. 

The ministers threw their full weight against the proposal in an interview with public broadcaster Kan on Sunday, in the wake of Lieberman's ultimatum on Saturday that if either Netanyahu or Gantz don't agree on unity terms, he'll back the other candidate.

The main pillars of the unity proposal being promoted by President Reuven Rivlin is for Gantz to let Netanyahu go first as prime minister as part of a rotation agreement, and for Netanyahu to break the bloc and leave behind his right-wing allies.