Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Photo: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
This just in from Haaretz: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman are set to announce “the unification of their Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu parties, a Channel 2 report indicated on Thursday.”
The move, due to be announced in a press conference in Jerusalem’s Dan Panorama Hotel, may be an attempt to overpower a possible unification between centrist and left-wing parties.
Last week, a Haaretz poll indicated that a new centrist party formed by Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid would win more seats in the next Knesset than the Likud.
Were such a party to be formed, it would grab 25 seats, compared to Likud’s 24. However, the survey also indicates that, whatever its composition, a right-wing bloc would not lose its Knesset majority.
What’s it mean? Noam Sheizaf, the sharp Israeli journalist from +972 Magazine, writes on Twitter: “Strange sign of panic in the Right: Likud is merging w/ Israel Beitenu; Bibi officially endorses Lieberman politics (as if we didn’t know).”
Indeed. Some Western powers act like they “don’t know” that Lieberman and Netanyahu are similar ideologically, at least when it comes to the Palestine question. Western nations have in the past distanced themselves from Lieberman over his brash right-wing views.
This move should puncture the notion that Lieberman’s ethnocentric, right-wing politics that push for the “transfer” of Palestinian citizens of Israel is somehow an outlier in Israeli politics. Lieberman’s party is about to be fused with Israel’s most powerful political force.