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It’s Liberman, not Netanyahu, who is holding back Israel over ultra-orthodox freedoms

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Its Liberman not Netanyahu who is holding back Israel over ultra-orthodox freedoms

Americans often have to rely on uninformed news reports to understand how Israel’s government is formed and what’s preventing that from happening today. Most of the reports from progressive media outlets are blaming Benjamin Netanyahu for holding up the Israeli government for the sake of protecting a small minority of ultra-orthodox Jews who are protected from mandatory military service. In reality, it’s Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman who is being obtuse and could propel Israel into having a left-wing government with the Arab-Israeli parties holding all the cards.

Netanyahu has stayed true to his conservative coalition partners that make up about 1/6th of the Knesset. It has given him a plurality, which is why he got first stab at forming the government. But as the deadline approaches, it has become almost certain he will fail and will have to return the mandate to President Rivlin, who will then give it to Blue and White leader Benny Gantz.

Liberman could end it. His secular nationalist party is opposed to two things. His party the protections lifted from the ultra-orthodox Jews, and he really doesn’t like Netanyahu even if he agrees with the vast majority of his policies. To handle the first issue, he has called for a unity government that would have the Prime Minister desk shared by Netanyahu and Gantz. To do this, Likud would likely have to abandon their conservative allies, which is a non-starter for Netanyahu.

But Liberman is also adamantly opposed to the Joint List parties joining the new coalition government, which makes it nearly impossible for Gantz to form a government as well. But since Gantz gets the last shot at forming the government, it seems more likely that Liberman will choose to side with the left and the Joint List parties or face the prospect of a third election in a year.

If that happens, it’s 100% the fault of Liberman and Yisrael Beytenu. He has held the leverage through two elections and refuses to bend on a minor issue that affects a tiny number of Israelis. He will be to blame if either a leftist government is formed or if another election is called. He has made it personal, testing the resolve of Netanyahu and the conservative bloc and finding it more than willing to hold true.

Netanyahu released a video calling out a “secret plan” by Gantz, Blue and White co-leader Yair Lapid, and Liberman to cooperate with the Joint List to form the next government. Considering it’s the only plausible way to cut out the right-wing bloc, the plan isn’t all that secret, and while Liberman has stated he will not be part of a government that includes the Joint List, there’s really no other path if he’s unwilling to work with Netanyahu.

In other words, Liberman will go against his own conservative views, the wishes of his party, and common sense just to spite Netanyahu if he chooses to form a leftist government with Gantz and the Joint List. He will make it difficult at best to deal with Hamas, Hezbollah, and the PA as a result of his stubbornness. And Israel as a nation will suffer tremendously as a result.

It’s imperative that Liberman put aside his pet project against the ultra-orthodox and focus on the bigger picture for his country. Handing power to Gantz and the Joint List just to spite Netanyahu is pure insanity.

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