With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s popularity dipping, rumors are again swirling about the make-up of Israel’s next government.
More than likely, the next election–be it early, or on schedule in 2026–will again result in Netanyahu’s Likud as the largest party in Knesset. But will he again forge a coalition with exclusively religious parties of the ultra-Orthodox and national “messianic” brand? Or will Bibi go for a more centrist government?
The latter option would require Netanyahu to somehow mend fences with the heads of Israel’s center-right parties, all of whom have vowed to never again serve under him. But the prospect of another four years of the rabbis running the show might compel right-wing secularists to rethink their disdain for Bibi. Reports this week suggested that Yisrael Beiteinu party chief Avigdor Liberman was of such a mind.
But in an interview with the daily newspaper Ma’ariv this week, Liberman made clear that he wouldn’t be the one to break ranks with the “Just-Not-Bibi” camp.
“The chance that the Messiah will come is greater than the chance that I will join Netanyahu,” he stressed.
Liberman’s problem is that he doesn’t trust Netanyahu, and believes that Bibi will always defer to his more dedicated religious political allies. As an avowed secularist, Liberman sees the ultra-Orthodox and the national religious Jews that make up the bulk of the settler movement as a threat to the Jewish state.
“I am not willing to sit in any coalition with the ultra-Orthodox and messianics,” he insisted. In Israel’s political context, “Messianic Jews” refers to those who make political decisions with an eye toward biblical prophecy, and not Jews who believe in Jesus. For more on this, see: How Messianic Is Israel’s Government Really?
Ironically, from an international secular perspective, Liberman himself is in that same “messianic” boat since he lives in Nokdim, a Jewish settlement in Judea.
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