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Israel: Gantz rejects Netanyahu’s plan for national unity government

Leader of the Blue and White political alliance, former chief of staff of the Israeli army, Benny Gantz speaks to his supporters during the final stage of his election campaign in Tel Aviv, Israel, 15 September 2019. [Faiz Abu Rmeleh - Anadolu Agency]
Leader of the Blue and White political alliance, former chief of staff of the Israeli army, Benny Gantz speaks to his supporters during the final stage of his election campaign in Tel Aviv, Israel, 15 September 2019. [Faiz Abu Rmeleh - Anadolu Agency]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu published a plan for establishing a national unity government yesterday, which was quickly rejected by Blue and White chair Benny Gantz.

According to Haaretz, the outline is “based on the guidelines set forward by President Reuven Rivlin for establishing a unity government” but it ignores Blue and White’s “demand to break up the right-wing bloc as a precondition to coalition talks”.

In addition, the plan – presented less than a week before next Wednesday’s deadline to secure a coalition – fails to mention “a rotation of the premiership or an arrangement for such a rotation”.

Netanyahu’s plan “suggests maintaining the status quo for a year”, Haaretz noted, which would thus prevent Blue and White (Kahol Lavan) “from fulfilling its pledge to voters on matter of religion, such as public transportation on Shabbat and civil unions”.

Shortly after Netanyahu presented the plan to Gantz by phone, the Blue and White chair said it was “impossible not to refuse” such a proposal.

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“We’ll wait to receive the president’s offer to form the government and then we’ll begin serious negotiations to establish a liberal unity government,” Gantz added.

For his part, Netanyahu posted a video on social media explaining that he had called Gantz and “suggested a compromise for the establishment of a broad national unity government”.

“This is the only government that can be established now and this is the only government that must be established now,” the long-time Likud leader added.

“All Israelis are looking around and see the Middle East changing before our very eyes – changing for the worse. Those who need to know, know that the security challenges we face are only growing, and they will not wait for us,” Netanyahu declared.

Next week, a 28-day period for Netanyahu to form a government expires, after which time President Rivlin “can allow Netanyahu a two-week extension, or transfer the mandate to Gantz”. Sources have suggested that Rivlin is unlikely “to extend Netanyahu’s deadline to form government”.

The alternative scenario would then be Rivlin tapping another lawmaker – “most likely Gantz” – to head up another attempt to negotiate a coalition deal.

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