Israel Election: Netanyahu says no to unity government

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to the media after viewing the weapons cache discovered at a factory in the West Bank city of Hebron, Jan. 10, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and then-Israeli defense minister Avigdor Liberman speak to the media, Jan. 10, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is making his political vision for Israel crystal clear, promising to establish “a strong right-wing government.”

“This is my commitment to Likud voters. There will be no unity government,” he wrote in an op-ed published Wednesday in the conservative Israel Hayom newspaper.

Netanyahu is pushing back on demands that he form a unity government with the centrist Blue and White party.

“The citizens of Israel face a single choice in the upcoming election: Who will be the next prime minister of the State of Israel? Will a weak and inexperienced left-wing government led by Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz be established; or rather a strong right-wing government headed by the Likud under my leadership,” he wrote.

“To form a right-wing government, voters from the nationalist camp must wake up and shed their apathy.”

Netanyahu’s comments come after Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Liberman said that he will only support a candidate for prime minister who is willing to push for a national unity government. Liberman scuttled coalition talks in May and prevented Netanyahu from forming a government, and polls show him gaining strength.

Most of the Israeli public opposes such a unity government, with more than half of those surveyed against a coalition of Blue and White and Likud, The Times of Israel reported.

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