Report: Yisrael Beytenu in talks for merger with Likud

Is Yisrael Beytenu on the verge of joining with the Likud? Likud leaders say talks progressing - but will hinge on Liberman's demands.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Netanyahu and Liberman
Netanyahu and Liberman
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Avidgor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party is in secret talks with the Likud as the two parties weigh a full merger, Kan reported Sunday night.

The report cites senior Likud officials, who confirmed that the two parties are discussing the possible merger of Yisrael Beytenu and the Likud.

Last week, the Central Elections Committee announced the final results for the April 9th election, giving the Likud 35 seats and Yisrael Beytenu 5. Yisrael Beytenu, led by former Defense Minister Avidgor Liberman, has recommended Netanyahu for Prime Minister, and the two parties have been in talks for the formation of a new coalition government.

At the same time, say senior Likud officials, parallel talks between the two parties are underway, with the aim of bringing Yisrael Beytenu into the Likud.

The sources say that the chances of a deal being struck depend largely on the extent of Liberman’s demands – which will ultimately face the Likud party’s central committee, which is apt to reject a demand of extra representation for Liberman’s backers in the new joint party.

Yisrael Beytenu, however, has denied the report.

“There are no talks underway,” a party spokesperson said. “This is just spin.”

In 2013, the Likud and Yisrael Beytenu parties ran on a joint list for the 18th Knesset. While the joint ticket did not constitute a full merger, it brought the two factions into a temporary alliance. Despite initial polls suggesting the united Likud Beytenu ticket could win as many as 45 seats, the list received a disappointing 31 mandates – far fewer than the two parties had as separate parties. In the 17th Knesset, the Likud had 27 seats, compared to 15 for Yisrael Beytenu – or 42 seats combined.