Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (front left) is at a political impasse with his former defense minister Avigdor Liberman (rear middle). (Wikimedia Commons)

Amid ‘Coup’ Rumors, Likud Candidates Back Netanyahu (AUDIO INTERVIEW)

The candidates occupying the top 40 slots on the ruling Likud party’s list for the September 17 election signed a petition on Sunday pledging allegiance to party leader and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, reiterating that he remains the Likud’s only choice to form the next governing coalition.

The show of support comes after Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Liberman, dubbed the country’s secular, right-wing kingmaker by analysts, suggested over the weekend that his preference would be to join a national unity government comprising Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White alliance and the Likud – although a Likud led by someone other than Netanyahu. Liberman has reportedly gone so far as to name Yuli Edelstein, a top-ranking Likud lawmaker and speaker of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, as a possible successor to the incumbent leader.

The Likud is running neck-and-neck with Blue and White in the latest opinion polls, although it’s almost certain that the latter will be unable to construct a majority Center-Left-Right coalition even with Yisrael Beitenu’s projected 10-11 mandates. Analysts instead feel that Netanyahu will likely be able to form the next government, perhaps even without Liberman – although this would require the backing of the Center-Left Labor-Gesher political union in addition to Ayelet Shaked’s United Right, together with the country’s two ultra-Orthodox parties.

If so, Liberman could end up on the outside looking in, and not a kingmaker.

The Media Line discussed Israel’s ongoing political machinations with political and defense expert Amir Oren, formerly of the Haaretz daily.

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