(Washington, D.C.) — Real drama is building around the third round of Israeli national elections, which take place Monday.
Speculation is growing that Avigdor Lieberman — the former Defense Minister, dubbed the “kingmaker” because his party’s seats are absolutely essential to forming any government — is preparing to forge an alliance with former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, head of the Blue & White Party.
Why? Because Lieberman just dropped a bombshell, announcing that he will not join a government with Benjamin Netanyahu under any circumstances.
- “We won’t join any government that is led by Netanyahu,” Lieberman said Saturday. “We’d be happy to join a Likud government without Netanyahu.”
- “The Netanyahu era is over,” Lieberman said last week.
- Netanyahu “can no longer be prime minister” and “has been in power for too long and has lost the instincts and the motivation to work and do what is necessary,” Lieberman said in early February.
Keep in mind, Lieberman used to be Netanyahu’s most trusted advisor. Now the two men can’t stand each other. And the beginning of Netanyahu’s trial on corruption and bribery charges on March 17th may be giving Lieberman just the opening he wants to bury his former boss.
To be clear, Lieberman hasn’t endorsed Gantz. In fact, he stated just yesterday that while Gantz is a “good guy,” he is “not yet ready to be prime minister.”
However, who else is there for Lieberman to forge a deal?
- The latest and final round of polls show that Gantz and his team will (once again) win between 30 and 35 seats (at or close to the number of seats that Likud wins).
- Polls also show Lieberman’s party in danger of losing a seat or two, while Likud seems poised to gain a seat or two, suggesting Likud is actively trying to poach Lieberman’s mostly Russian voters.
- Gantz has been actively courting Lieberman for over a year.
- Whereas last year he was pushing for a national unity government with Likud, Gantz is now signaling that he can and will form a narrow government coalition without Likud (unless Netanyahu steps down), and that would have to include Lieberman.
- What’s more, the two men had negotiated a detailed coalition agreement after the last round of elections. While they didn’t agree on final terms at the time, they reportedly were close. Have they since come to terms?
Don’t count Netanyahu out. He’s the longest serving Prime Minister in Israeli history for a reason, and his supporters have proven exceptionally loyal over the decades. That’s why he is often called the “magician.” Can he pull another rabbit out of the hat, or are Gantz and Lieberman about to reveal a few tricks of their own?
Stand by. And please keep praying for the Lord’s will to be done, above all. Things are just getting interesting.
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