Lieberman Defends Party Merger Amid Signs of Likud Revolt

Likud Ministers Fear Merger Will Chase Off Moderates, Religious Voters

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman denied reports that his merger with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party would lead to a “rotating prime minister” situation, insisting he supports Netanyahu holding the post for a whole additional term and wants to keep his position in the Foreign Ministry.

But that assumes the merged Likud-Beiteinu list can actually court enough voters to win  the election, and even before that they need to convince much of the Likud leadership, which is on the brink of open revolt about the merger, saying they fear the merger will alienate Likud’s moderate supporters and will also chase the religious voters into the Shas camp.

Lieberman lashed critics of the merger as “cowards” and insisted that the vast major of Likud’s voter base believed in the merger of the two far-right parties. He also added that he “assumes” support for a two-state solution in some form will be mentioned in the merged platform.

Likud Minister Michael Eitan and several other top officials are reportedly pushing for a “secret ballot” vote on whether or not to approve the merger, which apparently has taken them by surprise and raised concern of a mass exodus to the center-left as an alternative to Likud’s ever-rightward shift.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.