A key endorsement from Avigdor Lieberman this morning is likely to secure Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party the first opportunity to form the next Israeli government. The 15 seats of Yisrael Beiteinu will bring the total of supporters of Netanyahu’s position up to 65 seats.
Once chosen, the party would have 42 days to piece together a coalition of at least 61 seats, and while there is no guarantee that those who endorsed him during the present talks will join his coalition, Netanyahu is now clearly the front-runner and a far-right government looks increasingly likely.
Yet Lieberman said he told President Peres that his endorsement was conditional on Netanyahu forming a broad center-right government including both his party and Tzipi Livni’s Kadima Party, which finished first in the elections but has struggled to secure endorsements. That seems to go against Livni’s plan, however.
Giving a speech to her party members today, Livni declared that “the foundation was laid for an extreme right-wing government led by Netanyahu. This is not our way, and there is nothing for us in such a government.” She said it was her intention to put the now-ruling Kadima party in the opposition.
The question of whether or not to join a unity government will likely be a contentious one among Kadima members however. Likud previously said it would give Kadima two key ministerships, making Shaul Mofaz the defense minister and allowing Livni to remain as foreign minister. Mofaz appears to support joining the right-wing government, and some reports suggest the party may split apart over the question.