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Netanyahu, Liberman in fierce battle over right-wing votes

The Blue and White party, which posed a real threat to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the last election, is now the least of his headaches.
Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman (R) sits opposite of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman during the weekly cabinet meeting at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, June 10, 2018. Jim Hollander/Pool via Reuters - RC13DBD58690

Knesset member Avigdor Liberman announced the night of June 15 that he would force a national unity government on the Likud and the Blue and White party, and that he plans to advise the president to give the task of forming the new government to whichever party is the largest. This turned September’s upcoming election into a head-to-head battle between him and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

This is already a very strange election, unlike anything we’ve seen before. Until now, elections always pitted the leaders of the two major parties against each other, with one from the right and the other from the center-left. That’s not the case this time. The prime minister, who heads a party (Likud) with 35 seats, now sees his main rival as being the head of a small party on the right with just five seats (Yisrael Beitenu). Oddly enough, the Blue and White party and its leader, Benny Gantz, do not pose a serious threat, at least as far as Netanyahu is concerned. Maybe it’s because the Blue and White party also needs Liberman if they are to form the next government.

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