Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has announced today he and his party, Yisrael Beiteinu, will not be joining a new far-right coalition government, citing ideological differences with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Lieberman complained Netanyahu hadn’t pledged massive expansions of settlements in the occupied territories, and also hadn’t committed to wiping out Hamas in a massive new war.
After his poor showing in this year’s election, Lieberman no longer had the clout to make significant demands, and analysts are seeing this as his decline into effective irrelevance. Once seen as Netanyahu’s heir apparent, corruption investigations of his party cut deeply into his already sagging support.
Where this leaves Netanyahu’s coalition efforts, just two days from the deadline, is unclear. Theoretically, a far-right coalition is possible with 61 seats out of 120, but would require Netanyahu to make deals with both Shas and Neftali Bennett’s Jewish Home parties.
Netanyahu has struggled to convince Bennett, another ultra-hawk in the mold of Lieberman, to come on board, and analysts warn that even if he does pull that off, such a narrow majority is sure to be extremely unstable.