A meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Liberman, the leader of the nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party who prevented Netanyahu from forming a coalition government following elections in April, lasted for less than an hour and failed to make 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,” the prime minister’s Likud party said in a statement.
Liberman reportedly reiterated his commitment to a secular unity government made up of his party, the center-left Blue and White and the right-wing 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 at the Knesset with Blue and White’s No. 2, Yair Lapid.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, Likud announced that Netanyahu is considering 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,” the party said.
Blue and White narrowly won the most seats in the national election last month, 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 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. Pre-indictment hearings are being held this week and into next week.
The new Knesset was scheduled to be sworn in later in the day.