Foreign MInister Avigdor Lieberman
Foreign MInister Avigdor LiebermanIsrael news photo: Flash 90

The bombshell announcement that Likud and Yisrael Beyteinu are to unite was one year in the making, Yisrael Beyteinu head Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman revealed Friday.

“Talks about uniting started one year ago,” he said at an afternoon news conference. “A final decision was made nearly two months ago.”

The unity “has created a new reality,” he added.

“We’ve worked shoulder to shoulder for four years, these two parties have been the safe harbor for stable leadership in recent years. There’s a natural dynamic,” he added.

“We must move away from the reality of many parties,” Lieberman declared. “Apparently we will never reach two parties like the United States, but we have to guarantee stability and ability to rule. Our race together definitely creates a new reality and I hope it is clear to everyone that there is no other alternative.”

“Everyone understands that it is much easier, and better, to manage the country with large parties and not fragments of parties with a lifespan of a single term and no ideology,” he continued.

The political left has criticized the merger of the two parties. Meretz head MK Zahava Galon went so far as to say it would strengthen “fascism.”

The first poll conducted after the surprise merger found that the change did not significantly strengthen the right. The mixed Likud-Yisrael Beyteinu party would get 33 seats, pollsters found, more than the Likud had previously been expected to get, but less than the two parties had been expected to get while running separately.

The merger did not significantly change the balance between left and right-wing parties, which remained roughly even.