Opinion: Avigdor Liberman has called for a liberal unity government, which is curious given his party’s policies when it comes to the country’s Arabs population and their Palestinian brethren, and it seems that liberal in his mind simply means anti-Netanyahu

Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a new government and the mandate has now been given to his central political rival, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz.

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman has implored Gantz to form what he calls a “national, liberal government” that comprises Likud, Blue and White and his party.

Benny Gantz and Avigdor Liberman meeting to discuss a unity government (Photo: Elad Malka)
Benny Gantz and Avigdor Liberman meeting to discuss a unity government (Photo: Elad Malka)


Yisrael Beytenu – a liberal party? It seems liberalism has a new definition these days.

Standard liberalism ascribes to equal political rights for all, and I simply cannot remember if and when Liberman’s party platform included the basic liberal demand to allow voting rights to Palestinians living under occupation in the West Bank.

Nor have I seen Yisrael Beitenu’s leader demand a withdrawal from the territories as a liberal worldview would dictate.

Perhaps as a new liberal, Liberman will demand public investment in the Arab community be equal to the budget allotted to Jews, as a pre-condition to participation in a coalition government.

In fact, he should have demanded that West Bank Palestinians and West Bank Jews be given the same services and support. If he is a liberal, let him be liberal.

The late Menachem Begin, as prime minister pledged to give equal funding to Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem. He did not – nor did any subsequent government.

Yisrael Beytenu calls for an exchange of territory whereby Jewish settlements will become part of Israel while Arab communities inside the pre-1967 borders become part of the West Bank and under military rule.

The party also demands corporal punishment for terrorists, home demolitions for terrorists without Supreme Court interference and a policy in the West Bank that ignores any court rulings on Israeli sovereignty and settlements.

Unity governments in Israel were never described as liberal. Indeed, prime ministers Yitzhak Shamir and Shimon Peres (who shared a rotating premiership after the 1986 elections) never described themselves as such.

In Israel, liberal means being opposed to Netanyahu. Being anti-liberal therefore means supporting the outgoing prime minister.

That is the premise upon which Yisrael Beytenu’s liberal government would be built, but a national unity government cannot be liberal by virtue of its makeup.

It is a government that includes opposing positions, some liberal, others religious or nationalist or social-democratic.

Sitting around the cabinet table will be ministers who follow separate and often conflicting ideologies. Such a government – which may be inevitable considering the results of the last two elections – would certainly have to mitigate any liberalism and not celebrate it.

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz receives a mandate to form a governement from President Reuven Rivlin (Photo: Rafi Kotz)
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz receives a mandate to form a governement from President Reuven Rivlin (Photo: Rafi Kotz)


In his impressive performance Wednesday, as he was receiving the mandate to form a government from President Reuven Rivlin, Gantz said he intends to form a strong and broad government that would include as many political parties as possible.

A “reconciliation government,” he called it, and only at the end of his statement did he quietly describe this future coalition as a liberal one.

The decisions facing any incoming government deserve ideological debate and opposing views and the world is undergoing such ideological conflicts every day.

The Brexit row in the United Kingdom is one such example, and it would be delusional to believe Israel would be able to meet the challenges ahead without having an intense debate such as the one currently taking place in Britain.

Israel should not declare it is heading towards national unity, not even if it is dressed up in liberal clothing.

As reported by Ynetnews