Avigdor Lieberman, the far-right former Israeli defense minister, called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to amply the already brutal policy on the besieged Gaza Strip, as a condition to join any right-wing coalition.
Lieberman said his party will only be a part of the coalition in the next Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, if the truce with Hamas would be ended by Netanyahu, according to sources from his far-right Israel Beiteinu party.
He earlier accused Netanyahu of being soft on Hamas and resigned the day after an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire was agreed in November.
Lieberman has spoken in favor of harsh Israeli military action against Hamas, even as the government had authorized a Qatari cash infusion to the impoverished enclave last year and limited itself to airstrikes rather than a wider campaign. Israel has fought three wars in Gaza since Hamas took over the enclave in 2007. In addition, during a series of border protests, Palestinians in the besieged enclave have been struggling to cope with high casualties due to the Israeli cycle of violence.
The humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territories is deteriorating further as hospitals struggle to cope with many casualties after protests on the Gaza-Israel border began on March 30. Since the rallies began, more than 220 Palestinians have been killed and thousands more were injured by Israeli troops deployed along the other side of the buffer zone. Tens of thousands of Gazans last month gathered at the Israeli border to mark a year since protests and clashes erupted there.
Lieberman has yet to formally confirm his party would sit with Netanyahu and could emerge as a wild card. In any case, the country faces what could be weeks of political negotiations over the composition of a ruling coalition.
Israel witnessed a tight elections race and both contenders could not garner enough votes to form a majority government. However, Israeli television channels declared that the seats that Netanyahu obtained in the parliament were sufficient for him to form a coalition. Netanyahu's Likud Party and Gantz's Blue and White Party both gained 35 seats in the Knesset.
Although the official results will be declared today, it is certain that Netanyahu's party and his right-wing alliance will have 65 seats while the number of seats held by his rivals will be 55. After the declaration of official results Netanyahu, who will become Israel's longest-serving prime minister, will begin talks with his allies.