Avigdor Liberman
Avigdor LibermanYonatan Sindel/Flash90

Lawmakers from the secular rightist Yisrael Beytenu party are pressing party chairman Avidgor Liberman to help Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu form a narrow right-wing government if talks for a unity government fail, Channel 12 reported Tuesday afternoon.

According to the Channel 12 report, senior Yisrael Beytenu members, including MK Oded Forer and MK Hamad Amar, are pressuring party chairman Avidgor Liberman to join a narrow rightist government led by Binyamin Netanyahu, rather than let Israel go to its third general election in a year, if unity talks between the Likud and the Blue and White party fail to achieve a breakthrough.

“The State of Israel cannot bear a third election in one year,” the two MKs are reported as saying to Liberman. “There is a country here to run. Blue and White said that they’d put ‘Israel ahead of everything else’, but they are turning down every offer.”

“The time has come to make them pay a price. Blue and White and Yair Lapid need to know that if they continue to refuse [offers for a unity government], then the alternative will be a narrow right-wing government in order to prevent new elections.”

The right-wing – religious bloc currently backing Netanyahu has a total of 55 MKs – six short of the 61-seat majority required to form a new government.

If Yisrael Beytenu were to join a Netanyahu-led coalition which included the two haredi parties, the Prime Minister would have a total of 63 seats behind him.

Liberman has thus far insisted that Yisrael Beytenu will only join a national unity government which includes both the Likud and Blue and White, and excludes haredi lawmakers and the Jewish Home – National Union.

In response to the Channel 12 report, Liberman told the Knesset Channel that while he didn't reject the idea of joining a right-wing government out of hand, he wasn't sure whether new elections would be worse than a narrow government.

"New elections or a narrow right-wing government: I don't know which is worse, but I understand the frustration within the party."