Report: Yisrael Beytenu 'Furious' over Rivlin Support
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared support for Likud MK Reuven Rivlin Wednesday, in what analysts say is a surprise about-face for the formerly feuding politicians.
But while Netanyahu may have patched up one political crisis, another may be brewing.
Yisrael-Beytenu officials told IDF Radio Wednesday evening that faction head and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman is "furious" over the announcement, and has sought to recruit Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid's support in backing former MK Dalia Itzik for president.
The preliminary stages of a pact between the two are already in the works, according to NRG - sparking rumors of yet another crack in the Likud-Yisrael Beytenu pact formed for the 19th Knesset.
Although Rivlin, being from the Likud, would be a natural candidate for Netanyahu to support, Netanyahu had allegedly been making desperate maneuvers to try and prevent Rivlin from being elected - result of "bad blood" between them.
But the move has angered Yisrael Beytenu, which hasn't only declared that it would run separately in the next elections, but is also reeling from the non-candidacy of Water and Energy Minister Silvan Shalom (Likud), who was reportedly a favorite for the party.
The merger between Likud and Yisrael Beytenu in October 2012 shocked political analysts, many of whom said that the bid to gain more votes by combining the parties would be a colossal mistake - fears which quickly materialized as their combined votes dropped from over 40 to just over 30 in last year's general elections.
Liberman's party appeals mostly to immigrants from Russian-speaking countries; it was founded in 1999, when Liberman left Likud, after many years in which he worked in close partnership with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.