JERUSALEM (VINnews) — Last night’s meeting between Blue-And-White leader Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Netanyahu only served to demonstrate the widening gap between the two leaders’ approaches. Gantz is convinced that as the leader of the largest party, he has effectively won the elections and therefore must be prime minister first and establish the government that he wants, which will not include Chareidi parties or the right-wing National Union led by Betzalel Smotrich. Netanyahu on the other hand refuses to dismantle the bloc of 55 MKs he set up immediately after the election which includes those parties. He also demands to stay prime minister for the first year of the term even if an indictment is issued against him, since only if he is found guilty he is required to step down.
The result of all this is that, barring a dramatic turn of events today, there is no prospect of a unity government being formed. This leaves Gantz with just two options: He can form a minority government of 56 MKs, including Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party, which would be supported by the Arab parties from outside. (They refuse to sit in the government). Alternatively he could return the mandate to the president stating that he has not succeeded in forming a government, since the deadline for forming such a government is Wednesday evening. This would almost certainly lead to new elections.
In the meantime, mutual accusations have been flying between the two camps, both sides accusing the other of responsibility for the failure of the unity government. Netanyahu tweeted that “unfortunately Gantz refuses to accept the condition made by Liberman- acceptance of the presidential framework whereby I will serve first as prime minister. Liberman said that he would support the side that would not refuse. It remains to be seen whether he will maintain his commitment.”
Gantz responded by tweeting that “this morning we must state the truth, that Binyamin Netanyahu is the one refusing unity who is doing all in his power to push Israel into new elections for the third time in a year. Even today I call on Netanyahu to recognize the results of the elections, renounce the bloc and come to direct negotiations to establish the principles acceptable to the two big parties. I will be willing for concessions for the citizens of Israel without giving up on my principles.”
The Likud immediately responded to Gantz, stating that “on a day when the State of Israel is fighting regional terrorist forces, we hope that Avigdor Liberman will not collaborate with a minority government dependent on terrorist supporters. Gantz rejected the presidential framework and the conditions set by Liberman for making a rotation. Gantz told Prime Minister Netanyahu at their meeting that he intends establishing a minority government dependent on terrorist supporters. Gantz and Lapid shamelessly lied to their electorate when they said that ‘we will not negotiate with the Arab parties, we will not create a bloc together with them.’ Prime Minister Netanyahu was correct in his warning. A minority government like this is a danger to the state of Israel, especially at a time like this.”
Blue-And-White MK Yair Lapid tweeted back : “A new record. After refusing every suggestion for unity we offered him, Netanyahu says that ‘Gantz refused.’ This man has no limits. Liberman know the truth. Bibi is stuck to his Chareidi-messianic bloc and leading towards elections with all his might.”