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Liberman: Likud Beytenu Has Come to an End

Foreign Minister speculates that his party and the Likud will run separately in the next election.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/25/2014, 6:43 AM

Liberman and Netanyahu announce alliance
Liberman and Netanyahu announce alliance
Flash 90

The Likud-Yisrael Beytenu alliance, known as the Likud Beytenu, has come to an end, Channel 2 News reported on Monday.

The report cited Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, head of Yisrael Beytenu, who told MKs at the Knesset cafeteria that the most likely scenario is that the two parties will run separately in the next election.

Liberman also reportedly dismissed speculations that he would quit Yisrael Beytenu and run with the Likud or that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would quit the Likud and run with Yisrael Beytenu.

It has been speculated that, in the wake of Liberman’s apparent recent “leftward U-turn”, he and Netanyahu were planning to form a new joint party.

Liberman is seen as more moderate than he was in the past, after he came out in defense of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace plan.

Liberman insisted that Kerry is "a good friend of Israel" and is not an anti-Semite. In addition, the foreign minister has been touting a peace plan that involves placing parts of Israel with large Arab concentrations under the sovereignty of a future “Palestine,” in exchange for leaving settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria under Israeli sovereignty.

In the wake of Liberman’s moderate statements, there have also been speculations that he would join Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. Liberman, however, dismissed those speculations as well, saying that he and Livni had no common ground whatsoever.

Likud and Yisrael Beytenu forged an alliance prior to the last national election. While internal surveys conducted by Likud showed that the merger would increase the number of mandates shared by the parties, analysts warned that the move could become the biggest political mistake in the elections.

Ultimately, the joint list won only 31 seats in the elections, far below the number it expected to achieve. The joint list was the Knesset’s largest faction, but the number of seats shared between the two factions was down from 42 seats in the last Knesset.

The Yisrael Beytenu conference recently decided to postpone a final decision on a union with the Likud. The Likud’s Central Committee also postponed a vote on the issue, but it is generally agreed that, given the failure of the endeavor, the parties will split in the next election.