Netanyahu ahead of departure to Lisbon
Netanyahu ahead of departure to Lisbon Kobi Gideon/GPO

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke with reporters Wednesday morning just before his departure for Lisbon, Portugal, where he is set to meet with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

On the tarmac Wednesday morning, Netanyahu blamed Blue and White MK Yair Lapid for the failure of negotiations to lead to a breakthrough towards the formation of a unity government.

Netanyahu also suggested that Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avidgor Liberman could rejoin the right-wing bloc and help form a narrow right-wing government.

“Liberman could form a government with us, but that’s his decision. The country needs a unity government, not a completely unnecessary election. But if we are forced into an election, we will win.”

The Prime Minister said that despite the impasse, he still favors forming a unity government with Blue and White before next Wednesday’s deadline.

“I want unity. After the generous offers we made to Blue and White, they haven’t moved one millimeter. We made all kinds of offers to them, including ways to ensure that a unity government will be maintained, but they simply refused.”

The personal interests of one man – Yair Lapid – are interfering with major national interests. That is saddening.”

If the Likud and Blue and White are unable to reach an agreement by the Wednesday night deadline, continued Netanyahu, “we will head to new elections, and we will win. But I’m making every effort possible to form a unity government, and I’m still open to talks with anyone who is willing to meet with us, and I hope that this will bear fruit.”

Netanyahu is slated to meet with Pompeo in Lisbon this week, following the Secretary’s appearance at the NATO summit in London alongside President Trump.

Earlier on Wednesday, Yisrael Beytenu MK Oded Forer called on party chairman Avidgor Liberman to help the Likud form a narrow, right-wing government if no breakthrough can be made towards a unity government.

“I see Blue and White’s refusal to enter into a unity government. We now have three options on the table: a unity government, a narrow right-wing government, or new elections," said Forer.

“As far as I’m concerned, the best option is a unity government, but if we’re left with the other two options, in my opinion it would be better to have a government than go to elections a third time.”

“I told Liberman that the haredim will have to make concessions and be flexible, but if the choices are a narrow right-wing government or elections, I think that new elections are the worst option for Israel, and we must do everything possible to prevent that.”

Blue and White chief Benny Gantz met with Netanyahu Tuesday night, but the two failed to make any progress, with both sides blaming each other for the deadlock.