After weeks of negotiations between opposition leader Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Zionist Union MKs opposed to their party’s entry into the government welcomed the apparent suspension of talks on Wednesday, when it was announced that Yisrael Beytenu chief Avigdor Liberman was conducting parallel talks with the Prime Minister.
But with polls showing the party plummeting to 13 seats from its current 24, some MKs called on Herzog to resign following Wednesday’s announcement.
“Anyone who was willing to crawl pathetically into the worst government in Israeli history needs to put the keys on the table and go home,” said MK Stav Shaffir.
Shaffir mocked the opposition leader, saying he was manipulated by Netanyahu to create a stronger, more rightwing coalition.
“It’s clear now that Bibi used Herzog to get Liberman into the government. Just yesterday Herzog was still trying to convince us that Bibi has changed and that he is willing to take advantage of this ‘historic opportunity’,” said Shaffir.
“It no longer matters whether Herzog crawls into the government or not. The results are that he’s lost the public’s trust and the trust of most of the party’s members – and now he has to go.”
MK Mickey Rosenthal (Zionist Union) joined Shaffir’s demand that Herzog step down.
“In light of the disgrace he has brought upon the party and its values, and given his failed leadership, Buji [Herzog] needs to give back the keys and resign from his position immediately.”
MK Erel Margalit also ripped Herzog, calling the opposition leader “confused” and servile.
“Every time we think that Herzog has brought us down to rock bottom, [we find him] yelling at us [from even] further down,” said Margalit.
“Buji [Herzog] got confused while crawling around,” a reference to what many Zionist MKs have described as Herzog’s acquiescence to Netanyahu.
“This isn’t a matter of ‘us or Liberman’,” said Margalit, mocking Herzog’s declaration on Wednesday, “its ‘us or Bibi’. Really, opposition isn’t a dirty word – we [at least] can breath there.”
Likud MKs welcomed negotiations with Liberman over his party’s possible entry into the government.
Some Likud members had fretted over a potential unity government, which they feared would give the leftwing Zionist Union party excessive influence within the coalition.
“Yisrael Beytenu is a natural partner [for the Likud coalition] who will strengthen our ability to deal with security and social challenges,” said Welfare and Social Services Minister Haim Katz.
Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz and MK Mickey Zohar also praised Liberman’s willingness to expand the coalition.
“The people have voted for a rightwing government and against harming the settlement [of Judea and Samaria],” said Zohar. “The addition of Liberman to the coalition is better than any other option. The addition of the Zionist Union could potentially lead to ideological concessions that harm the settlement [movement] and [lead to] the establishment of a Palestinian state. The people voted for a rightwing government and we cannot work against the will of the people.”