Likud Knesset members are “a bunch of chickens” who have already begun to eulogize Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu behind his back, Yisrael Beiteinu Party leader Avigdor Lieberman said on Wednesday.

Netanyahu announced on Monday his intent to return the mandate to form a government to President Reuven Rivlin, opening the door for Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz to make his own attempt to form a coalition. If Gantz fails, Israel will likely undergo a third round of national elections.

Speaking to Israel Kan public broadcaster on Wednesday, Lieberman said that lip service to Netanyahu aside, in practice Likud members were already “burying him alive” and preparing for party primaries.

“The Likud members are fending for themselves and Likud. We already see that all of the senior members are preparing for primaries,” said Lieberman. “While they paying lip service and add the words ‘after the Netanyahu era,’ in practice they are already eulogizing Netanyahu and burying him alive—[Nir] Barkat, [Israel] Katz and [Gideon] Sa’ar have already said they would run. Whoever sees the events they’re hosting … understands that they are deep in the race.”

Lieberman could have averted the current coalition crisis, but refused to join the Netanyahu government following the April 9 election due to its inclusion of ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties. Following the Sept. 17 election, he demanded that Gantz and Netanyahu form a secular unity government.

Gantz has refused to join a government with Likud because of the threat of criminal indictment looming over Likud head Netanyahu.

On Tuesday, Lieberman accused Netanyahu of “dragging [Likud], against their will and their interests, to another election” by not stepping aside as Likud Party leader.

He also said rumors circulating that he sought to create a coalition with Blue and White and the Arab parties was false.

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