Dramatic development: Nearly six months after shocking the political system by forming a unity government with Kadima, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has thrown another curve ball by joining forces with Avigdor Lieberman ahead of the upcoming elections.
In a special press conference held Thursday evening, the two men announced they were uniting the Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu under one ticket.
“We shall ask the public for a mandate to lead Israel with force. It will empower the government, it will empower the prime minister and therefore the state. I hope to win the public’s trust again and to get a clear mandate from Israeli that will allow me to focus on what is important,” Netanyahu said.
“Joining forces will give us the power to defend Israel and generate social and economic change,” he added. The two refused to take questions, did not elaborate on the make-up of the new list and did not address the possibility of a rotation.
“We face tremendous challenges and this is the time to join forces for the State of Israel’s sake. That is why the Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu will run together under one ticket in the next Knesset election.”
The prime minister named the challenges the new government will face including the Iranian nuclear program and the anti-terror campaign.
“There is still so much to do, primarily lowering the cost of living. After we stabilized Israel’s economy in the wake of the ongoing global crisis, we can continue to focus on reducing the cost of living. This is the time to project power vis-à-vis our enemies and internal unity. A prime minister in Israel needs great power and unity.”
Netanyahu was followed by Lieberman, who said: “The merger is a combination of experience, force and unity. This is what Israel’s citizens expect. Given the challenges we need national responsibility. Not shreds of the latest trendy parties which disappear after one term.”
Lieberman said he was confident the party could win the election. “I have no doubt as to the Israeli public’s reaction and I have no doubt we will meet all of the expectations we created. We will meet those promises and will do it better than the previous administration.”
The dramatic decision was made after secret negotiations between the two men with senior officials from both parties left out of the loop.
The move is aimed at creating the largest list in the Knesset elections thus guaranteeing that Netanyahu will form the next government.
The Likud Central Committee is set to convene on Tuesday to ratify the agreement.
It is estimated that many Likud ministers and Knesset members will oppose the move.
Netanyahu had apparently feared that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s return to the fold would threaten the Likud’s chances of winning the elections.
Having reached an agreement with Lieberman, Netanyahu conferred to several Likud officials on Thursday afternoon including Moshe Kahlon who has recently announced he was quitting politics.
Source: Ynet News