Israel is headed back to elections, says Lieberman

Yisrael Beiteinu Party leader Avigdor Lieberman said on Tuesday that Israel is headed to its third round of elections this year.

“Elections are coming,” Lieberman told the Yedioth Ahronoth daily in an interview. Unity talks had reached a dead end, he said, and he had decided against empowering a narrow government, because “the combination of dramatic defense and economic decisions and a narrow government is likely to create a large rift and polarization in [Israeli] society.”

On Tuesday, a meeting between Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly broke down after just 45 minutes.

Though the addition of Lieberman’s eight mandates to either the right-wing bloc or a left-wing bloc including the Arab parties would allow Israel to avoid elections, Lieberman said both the Likud and Blue and White leaders had made this impossible.

“To my regret, both [Gantz and Netanyahu] took a strategic decision to not go to unity, and therefore the two parties are responsible for another round of elections,” Lieberman said. “Our hands are clean.”

On Wednesday, Likud Knesset member Miki Zohar told Israel National News that the Likud had engaged in negotiations with Lieberman to try to get him to join a Netanyahu-led bloc, but were “unable to reach understandings with him, unfortunately.”

Lieberman has said he would join a right-wing bloc if the Likud were to make major shifts in its views on Jewish religion and state connections, an agreement Likud would not make.

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