On Thursday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's announced he was merging his Likud party with that of his ultra nationalist coalition ally Foreign Minister Avigdor Liebermanith to create a "big, cohesive force" ahead of Israel's January 22 elections.
The fallout has been heavy and swift from multiple sides.
From Ari Shavit of the left-leaning Israeli newspaper Haaretz:
The right's big bang is undoubtedly a dark development. It turns Israel's ruling liberal nationalist party into an extreme nationalist party. It turns Israel's center-right prime minister into a prime minister held captive by dark forces. If until yesterday, Netanyahu could still claim to be the Israeli Ronald Reagan or Rudy Giuliani, yesterday, he turned into Glenn Beck.
suggested that the move immediately reduced the coalition's lead in parliament, Reuters reports. The joint candidate list of Netanyahu's Likud and Lieberman's Israel Beiteinu parties lost projected parliament seats while Israel's strongest opposition parties, left-leaning Labor and the centrist Yesh Atid, were seen as gaining seats.
"Anyone who did not tolerate Lieberman and voted for Netanyahu will think twice, and the same is true for those who did not tolerate Netanyahu and voted for Lieberman," Nahum Barnea of Yedioth Ahronot, the biggest-selling newspaper, told Reuters.
"We’re repulsed by this partnership with Lieberman," one Likud official told Haaretz. "I don't want to run with a person like Lieberman, with the kind of values he stands for."
The Los Angeles Times notes that Lieberman’s party has "at times advocated expelling Israeli Arabs to the West Bank and opposed making concessions to draw Palestinians back to the negotiating table. Lieberman is also fighting a criminal indictment over allegations that he accepted bribes."