Report: Netanyahu and Lieberman to merge right-wing parties ahead of Israeli elections

on 27 Comments
Lieberman 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.”

More from Haaretz:

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.

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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27 Responses

  1. Stephen Shenfield
    October 25, 2012, 1:14 pm

    Another step toward an open fascist coup in Israel. What will Lieberman demand from Netanyahu as a condition of helping to keep him in power in the short term? Surely to open the path to power for Lieberman himself in the slightly longer term.

    • BillM
      October 25, 2012, 6:02 pm

      Indeed. It’s not a literal coup, of course, since it would be done through elections, but if the report that Netanyahu would serve as PM for 3 years and Lieberman for 1 is correct, then it is an incredible political coup for Lieberman. It’s not clear he could ever become PM based on his own party’s strength. Now, he can take over the reins directly without having to compromise his blatantly fascist positions.

    • piotr
      October 25, 2012, 6:53 pm

      Well, one could argue that they are merely authoritarian, and in a way, the merger of parties simply presents a more candid choice to the voters.

      By the way, the investigation concerning alleged acceptance of favors by Lieberman through foreign shell companies did not conclude, but a scandal that appeared during the investigation would force any minister of a civilized country to resign. Also, it is alleged that the proofs, if any, of the bribery involving Lieberman are in the hands of the government of Belorus. Implications are simply staggering.

      It is good that according to polls, Israeli are most optimistic people on Earth.

      Concerning policies, what is the difference between Danny Danon and Lieberman? The difference that I see is that Likud could shield itself from the legal stench coming from Lieberman by keeping him in a separate party.
      I think that if this is true, then I really do not see obvious benefits for Likud and Israel Beitenu, which makes me speculate that there are some non-obvious reasons.

      For example, Netanyahu may be threatened by a revolt among his rightwingers, and bringing more disciplined ranks of Israeli Beitenu inside Likud could offer security to Netanyahu. So this is the vision that may yet save the mankind:

      Putin controls Lukashenka
      Lukashenka controls Lieberman
      Lieberman controls Netanyahu
      Netanyahu controls US government

      “One world government” is operating! Any future wars will stem from Putin’s penchant to have his right hand puppet fighting with his left hand puppet: it is uproriously amusing!

    • Erasmus
      October 26, 2012, 6:19 am

      @ Sephen Sh…..
      Re:….”What will Lieberman demand from Netanyahoo…..?

      In the first place i would guess stalling and shelving all the legal crininal cases against him which are pending since years before the Israeli inJUSTICE-system.

      Apart from that, this deal is not yet through. In light of the idiosyncracies of the special electoral and “democratic” set up in the State of Israel,……announcements are firstly no more than announcements. Let us wait and see.
      What i hardly can visualize is a 3 years- 1year power sharing arrangement as Prime Minister – that would even in Israel drive a good portion of the electorate away from the Likud-Beiteinu cook-up.
      However, before God and the Israeli Democracy – nothing is entirely impossible.

  2. hophmi
    October 25, 2012, 1:41 pm

    “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.”

    I think you have it backwards. I think it punctures the notion that transfer is taken seriously by anyone, and it punctures the notion of Lieberman as a radical ideologue. Netanyahu will moderate Lieberman, not the other way around. I think you have an interest in arguing that Lieberman and Netanyahu are similar ideologically, but it’s simply not the case. Lieberman has essentially been marginalized as FM by Netanyahu, and this will continue. This is triumph of visionless electoral politics, not a triumph of ideology.

    • Alex Kane
      October 25, 2012, 2:08 pm

      I would take Noam Sheizaf’s word on this, he is a much closer observer of Israeli politics and internal Israeli dynamics than either of us.

      You say “transfer” is not taken seriously by anyone. Not so. According to a 2010 poll from the Israel Democracy Institute, “53% of the Jewish public also believe that the State is entitled to encourage the emigration of Arabs.”

    • talknic
      October 25, 2012, 5:47 pm

      hophmi October 25, 2012 at 1:41 pm

      “This is triumph of visionless electoral politics, not a triumph of ideology”

      You said it. “visionless electoral politics” is no triumph, nor is the ideology.

    • piotr
      October 26, 2012, 5:01 am

      Lieberman is a Likudnik who organized a “specialized” party focused on Russian speakers. While his style is more gruff than Netanyahu, he is perhaps more moderate than, say, Danny Danon.

      hophmi, what do you think about latest JP on Lieberman? What country more advanced than a banana republic would tolerate a situation where police asks an ambassador nominated by FM to convey a packet of documents to authorities of the country where this ambassador is serving to collect information on alleged bribes accepted by FM, ambassador opens the packet and informs FM about the content. This can partly explains the penchant of FM to spend vacations in that authoritarian country that is not exactly a standard tourist destination.

      How tolerant is Israeli public toward crooks as Servants of the People?

  3. Abierno
    October 25, 2012, 1:48 pm

    If I correctly connect the dots – just as their is no daylight between Sheldon Adelson, Romney and Netanyahu, there is now no daylight between any of those parties, including Romney, and Avigdor Lieberman. Lieberman is the Israeli politican who once advocated bombing the Aswan Dam, thereby drowning thousands of Egyptian civilians, and who, as you so politically correctly identify as advocating the “transfer” of Israeli Palestinians as well as those in the territories. A less nuanced interpretation would be ethnic cleansing. Is it not also the case that he has been under long term investigation on serious corruption charges (which will more probably than not ever see the light of day.) If such information and its
    implications were be more widely disseminated to the American public, it could be
    a game changer for the election, since by the “no daylight” association, Romney is now firmly tied to Lieberman’s politics and his aggressive, war oriented stance to foreign policy. Does this make it inevitable that Romney will be a war president, and that the US will find itself embroiled in numerous Middle East wars on behalf of this client nation?

    • seafoid
      October 25, 2012, 4:01 pm

      There is simply no daylight. Israel is in darkness.
      The future will be very different to their black nihilism.


      “Even the most powerful states reach their term at some point. All political institutions will end sooner or later. The question is when and how. It’s our vanity that makes us think that what forms part of our world today must be stable and secure,” Davies says.”

      And Lieberman and Likud- what is the difference? They could throw in all of the Zionist parties, really. They all bomb Gaza, they all support the siege, they all build for YESHA.

    • piotr
      October 25, 2012, 7:01 pm

      Asuan Dam is an earth dam, meaning that it is kept together by sheer weight of the dirt. Unlike a concrete dam, it is next to indestructible. Otherise a sufficiently potent earthquake could release a wave rolling through the length of Egypt and killing millions.

      But, as they say, “it is the thought that counts”. The scary thing is that the extremists in Likud are much less sane than Lieberman.

  4. Krauss
    October 25, 2012, 1:51 pm

    Wait, wait, wait, wait!

    This is really confusing!

    I have heard time and again that Bibi is ‘forced’ by chains, if not something heavier, to be locked in with Lieberman.

    We’ve all heard the Liberal Zionist narrative: Yes, Bibi isn’t ideal but in his hearts of hearts he wants peace. However, because of his rightist coalition he is locked down.

    Deep down, you see, he is a centrist who is just distrustful of the Kadima/Labor coalition politics because he sees them as unstable. Therefore, he takes the more reliable but less compatible match and waits for the right moment.

    Well the “right moment” came during the summer and Bibi left the coalition on his own within 90 days. And now, in a final blow to the ‘liberal’ Zionist narrative, Bibi again chooses to go closer to Lieberman, showing very clearly who he personally prefers.

    Not Labor, not Kadima. The hard-right. That is his natural home. We have all known this for a long time. But now it will be impossible even for the spinsters like Goldberg to try to paint lipstick on this pig!

    • pabelmont
      October 25, 2012, 5:34 pm

      But, dear me, they will surely paint TRANSFER (as they paint SETTLEMENTS) as “necessary for Israel’s security” and who is ANY American to challenge the view of the government of Israel as to what’s necessary to Israel’s security? Right? Right!

      It’s really different from Germany’s need for lebensraum in the 1930s. Aggressive warfare and aggressive settlement and all the rest are OK if the good guys do it. What’s so hard to understand about that?

    • Dutch
      October 26, 2012, 7:56 am

      @ Kraus,

      No more Bibi-ing, PLEASE. Check out your last line, about the lipstick.

  5. David Doppler
    October 25, 2012, 3:37 pm

    Time for the MSM to connect the dots among Adelson, Netanyahu/Lieberman & Romney. Is Israel moving toward forced transfer, ethnic cleansing, funded by the same “folks” funding Romney? Americans who are deciding to vote for Romney on the economy need to be aware of the foreign policy implications of his main funding sources. MSM who continue to duck the issue are going to be complicit in what results, to bad effect. Adelson apparently got Romney’s “no daylight” pledge in exchange for a “don’t embarrass me” pledge. Time for Romney to be embarrassed. Time for him to be asked publicly if he agrees with the majority of Israelis who support forced transfer of Palestinians to achieve effective ethnic cleansing, with requiring loyalty oaths of Arab citizens, with indicting Arab Knesset members for treason. Time for the American election to be about American values, and time for the Israeli election to force Israelis to face the consequences of continued escalation in its war on universal values.

  6. seafoid
    October 25, 2012, 4:28 pm

    Say what you like about fascism but Lieberman tolerates images of women on bus ads. And in today’s Israel that is not to be sniffed at. Lieberman and Bibi are both secular and the secular crowd will soon be in the minority in Israel.

    The religious takeover will bring on the end of Zionism times.

  7. Dan Crowther
    October 25, 2012, 7:25 pm

    there’s actually some integrity in this decision; we all want politicians to be honest, no?
    I think we’re approaching the point where The Generals might have to be assembled.

  8. yonah fredman
    October 25, 2012, 7:32 pm

    Will this new party have a charter or a platform? I assume so. Will it resemble Lieberman’s platform from the last elections? Most assuredly not. (Although I never read Lieberman’s 2009 platform, maybe it was just platitudes and hints rather than obvious wording.)

    Is this worse than when Lieberman was appointed foreign minister? Potentially. If Lieberman can take over Likud, he can be the next prime minister, as the leader of Yisroel Beitenu that hope/fear was much smaller.

  9. ToivoS
    October 25, 2012, 8:15 pm

    In the last election the one thing that was really impressive was the crowds at Lieberman rallies chanting “Death to the Arabs”. That sounded like an extreme fringe at the time. I wonder if this coalition will be able to suppress these spontaneous demonstrations of voter sentiments? Or will they not even try to do so? Perhaps not. It would be interesting to see if Israel has become so disconnected with reality that they believe those demonstrations do not have impact beyond their borders. After all they can count on the US mass media and our Congress to ignore those demonstrations and also count on the world’s only super power to veto any criticisms that might appear before the UN.

  10. yourstruly
    October 26, 2012, 12:15 am

    this merger of israel’s right wing parties. what’ll it be called, the fascist alliance? or the unpopular front?

    • seafoid
      October 26, 2012, 6:13 am

      Maybe it won’t last very long. Bibi did a link up with Kadima that lasted 90 days. Zionist politics are very fluid. The only constant is the occupation.

  11. dbroncos
    October 26, 2012, 12:17 am

    The longer Netanyahu stays in office the harder it will be for American leadership to link Israel’s “hard right” policies to Netanyahu the personality, rather than to the Israli electorate where it belongs. I hope Netanyahu stays on and that Lieberman joins him on the international stage. None of this will be good news for Palestinians but did they appreciate any difference in thir station when Labor was in power? Netanyahu provides his American beneficiaries with a much clearer choice between supporting overt fascism or democracy. I hope he stays long enough to do irreparable damage to the special relationship and that when that damage becomes too big a liability for American leaders they will, finally, intervene.

  12. seafoid
    October 26, 2012, 3:15 am

    “There go the people. I must follow them, for I am their leader,” Alexandre Ledru-Rollin (1807-1874), a French politician.

    “A society one-dimensional in its driving force produces one-dimensional people, and struggles to be supported by them”.
    Herbert Marcuse , a German Jewish sociologist

    Dick Tuck had a famous post-election comment: “The people have spoken, the b*****ds” .

    Bibi and the Rottweiler are just responding to the political outlook of the greatest number of Jewish Israelis. 69% want apartheid.

  13. amigo
    October 26, 2012, 7:38 am

    Do these people really believe they can carry out mass ethnic cleansing to creat an Apartheid Regime in broad daylight and get off scott free.

    God , first makes insane those he would destroy.

    • seanmcbride
      October 26, 2012, 7:25 pm


      Do these people really believe they can carry out mass ethnic cleansing to creat an Apartheid Regime in broad daylight and get off scott free.

      Yes, they do. And their long-term strategy couldn’t be more obvious: to embroil “the West” in a grand holy war against more than a billion Muslims worldwide, which will provide a perfect cover. They may well get away with their plan. They are still on track and are meeting little opposition from “liberals” in the United States and Europe.

  14. chinese box
    October 26, 2012, 9:46 am

    I guess this is what Jane Harman was referring to — Bibi’s grand new coalition to make peace.

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