Liberman insisted that his refusal to join Netanyahu’s government owed to his opposition to the ultra-Orthodox parties that form the core of the Likud’s natural coalition partners. But neither the general public nor the Israeli commentariat believed his claims. The two men have a thirty-year relationship that has known its ups and downs. Most Israelis believe that Liberman was motivated by hatred of Netanyahu. Once it was clear that the election results gave Liberman the power to block Netanyahu from forming a government, Liberman was in a position to dictate his terms for joining the coalition. Netanyahu and the ultra-Orthodox parties were willing to accept his demands. The fact that Liberman still refused to make a deal demonstrated that his desire to destroy Netanyahu politically outweighed rational political calculations.
The final issue that will determine whether or not Netanyahu forms the next government is whether and how many other politicians on the right will join Liberman in working to overthrow Netanyahu, even at the price of allowing the formation of a leftist government.