Avigdor Liberman Supports Law to Block Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Former Israel Minister for Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman at his election campaign headquarters on Janurary 23, 2013 in Tel Aviv, Israel. Netanyahu was re-elected for a third term and will return to office, according to exit polls. Israel had the highest turnout of voters …
Lior Mizrahi /Getty

TEL AVIV – Yisrael Beitenu leader and election kingmaker Avigdor Liberman on Thursday added his voice to the chorus of support for Blue and White’s proposed legislation to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the grounds an indicted prime minister should be barred from office. 

Liberman initially rejected Blue and White head Benny Gantz’s attempts to introduce the legislation after the September national election.

His about-face on Thursday means a 62-seat opposition majority have expressed support for the move.

Liberman also said he would back term-limits for the premiership.

“At the faction meeting that just ended, it was decided to move forward with the promotion of two laws,” his secular, right-wing party said in a statement. “The first law [will] limit the tenure of a prime minister to two terms. The second law [will] prevent an MK facing indictment from forming a government.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed Gantz over the move.

“This is an effort to divide the nation when we are facing serious challenges like the corona crisis,” Netanyahu said at a Likud faction meeting Thursday.

“There are also opportunities like U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan that require us to be united and respect the will of the people.”

He went on to accuse his rival of acting worse than Iranian Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei.

 “In Iran, they disqualify candidates before their elections, but here Gantz is doing it after an election despite the results,” Netanyahu said.
A day earlier, Netanyahu accused Gantz of trying “to steal the election.” The non-final tally shows his right-wing coalition at 58 seats, three short of the 61-seat majority needed to form a government.
“The people’s will is clear. The national Zionist camp includes 58 seats. The leftist Zionist camp includes 47 seats,” Netanyahu said, basing his remarks on an opposition projection that would include the right-wing Yisrael Beitenu but not the Arab-majority Joint List.
Blue and White, which controls the House Committee, would set a vote on the indictment legislation after the Knesset is sworn in on March 16. Netanyahu’s trial for the three corruption cases facing him is set to begin on March 17.

Blue and White MK Moshe Ya’alon, a former Likud minister, said on Wednesday members of the Likud had reached out to him privately to help in the efforts to oust Netanyahu.

“Bibi, after an election full of lies that hit a new low, in which you failed to win the 61 mandates that could have enabled you to be above the law, you are still trying to steal votes from defectors,” Ya’alon said. “There are many in Likud who have asked us for help getting rid of you. You will not find such overtures about Gantz in Blue and White.”

Senior members of Labor-Gesher-Meretz and the Joint List on Wednesday expressed their support for the law.

MK Nitzan Horowitz tweeted Wednesday that the law was “politically and morally justified and reflects the will of most voters.”

“Let’s go for it with everything we’ve got,” he added.

MK Ahmad Tibi told 103FM Radio Wednesday that “I estimate that [supporting it] will be our direction.”

The right-wing bloc expressed outrage at Blue and White’s efforts, calling it a “coup.”

Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett said it was “an extreme and anti-democratic move, that is a spit in the face of half the country.”

“Two days ago there were elections, and already they are trying to bypass the people’s will through illegitimate methods,” he added.

Shas leader Aryeh Deri said the proposed legislation was a “disgrace” that totally “breaks the rules of the political game.” He slammed Blue and White for being “willing to sacrifice what is best for the country and the people’s unity on the altar of personal hatred toward Netanyahu.”

Culture Minister Miri Regev, of Likud, charged Gantz with “giving in to Tibi’s pressure” and launching an “attempted coup.”

 

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