Israel Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman holds a press conference following the dissolving of the Knesset,and ahead of the new elections, in Tel Aviv, on May 30, 2019. Photo by Flash90

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Liberman, who prevented Netanyahu from forming a coalition government following elections in April, lasted for less than an hour and did not make any progress toward forming a unity government.

“Netanyahu offered Lieberman to join the government as soon as possible, to enable the formation of a national unity government,” Netanyahu’s Likud Party said in a statement.

Liberman reportedly reiterated his commitment to a secular unity government made up of his Yisrael Beiteinu Party, Blue and White, and Likud.

His party’s eight Knesset seats could put either the left wing or right wing over the 61 seats needed to form a more narrow government.

Following his meeting with Netanyahu, Liberman was seen meeting with Blue and White number two Yair Lapid at the Knesset.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, the Likud Party announced that Netanyahu is considering holding snap leadership elections within the party. “The purpose of the move is shattering the illusion of a ‘rebellion in Likud’ that other parties are wishing for, something which is holding them up from joining a unity government.”

Blue and White narrowly won the most seats in the election, but Netanyahu was tasked by President Reuven Rivlin with forming a government since more seats were pledged to him by the right-wing bloc.

Also on Thursday, Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein said in an interview with the Kan public broadcaster that Netanyahu would be willing to take a leave of absence from leadership if he is indicted in any of the three corruption cases against him.

The new Knesset is scheduled to be sworn in later on Thursday.

 

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