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Israel's Lieberman says not backing Netanyahu or Gantz for PM

22 September 2019, MVT 20:02
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) greets rival Benny Gantz, leader of Blue and White party, at a memorial ceremony for late Israeli president Shimon Peres. PHOTO: GIL COHEN-MAGEN / AFP
22 September 2019, MVT 20:02

Israeli ex-defence minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday he will not endorse either Benjamin Netanyahu or Benny Gantz for prime minister following last week's deadlocked elections.

Lieberman, who could potentially play a kingmaker role, spoke to journalists as President Reuven Rivlin began consulting political parties on who they will back for prime minister.

A delegation from Lieberman's secular nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party was due to meet Rivlin later Sunday.

Yisrael Beitenu won eight seats in the 120-seat parliament in Tuesday's election.

Lieberman has insisted on a unity government between his party, Netanyahu's right-wing Likud and Gantz's centrist Blue and White.

He said he could not for now back Netanyahu because he is willing to form a coalition with Israel's ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties, which he accuses of seeking to impose religious law on the secular population.

Lieberman also said he could not back Gantz for now because he may reach a deal with either the ultra-Orthodox or Israel's Arab parties, which he called "enemies."

Jerusalem, Undefined | AFP

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