Israeli President Shimon Peres will begin talks with political parties tomorrow as the first stage of making his decision which party to charge with attempting to form a coalition government. The most interesting meeting however will be on Thursday morning, when Peres meets with Yisrael Beiteinu head Avigdor Lieberman to find out which, if any, party he will endorse.
Oddly, while most of Israel’s power elite are engaged in heated negotiations trying to square away their positions in the battle for a coalition government, Lieberman left the country this weekend on a brief vacation to Belarus. He will return tomorrow night, but may find his position complicated by his lack of disclosure on which side he supports.
Many of the activists who played such a key role in his power rising from obscuring to the third largest number of seats in this election are former Likud members, and they feel that anything short of a glowing endorsement of Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu would be a “betrayal.”
Meanwhile, Likud has stopped negotiating and is now threatening: they have cautioned Lieberman that if he doesn’t endorse Netanyahu they will reduce their offer and may attempt to form an alternative government with Kadima and the religious parties, leaving Lieberman in the opposition.
The reality is that all of these threats are predicated on Likud’s ability to lure Kadima into a coalition: hardly a sure thing according to Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. But as rumors continue to swirl that Lieberman won’t endorse anyone, the bidding for his endorsement is starting to dry up, at least on the Likud side.