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Netanyahu to Gantz: Differences between us are small, join our unity government

Blue and White alliance leader and former Israeli chief of staff, Benny Gantz delivers a speech during a meeting ahead of the general elections which will be held on March 2, in Rehovot, Israel on February 18, 2020 [Mostafa Alkharouf / Anadolu Agency]
Blue and White alliance leader and former Israeli chief of staff, Benny Gantz on 18 February 2020 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

Amid controversy over the formation of Knesset committees and voting for a replacement Knesset speaker, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu is calling on his rival Blue and White Leader Benny Gantz to form a unity government as “gaps” between both are “small.”

“Benny Gantz, this is a test for national leadership and responsibility,” Netanyahu said in a tweet. “Israeli citizens need a unity government to act to save their lives and livelihoods.”

Netanyahu continued: “This is not the time for a fourth election. We both know that the gaps between us are small and can be overcome. Let’s meet now and set up a government today. I am waiting for you.”

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, from Likud, has said he would defy a Supreme Court order to hold a vote on his replacement by Wednesday.

READ: Likud maintains boycott of the Knesset as Israeli political crisis drags on

Meanwhile, it has been reported that Edelstein has scheduled voting on several Knesset committees, including the Corona Committee, Work and Welfare Committee, Education Committee and a committee to supervise ending violence among Arab communities in Israel.

Gantz is eager to replace Edelstein with a speaker from his centre-left bloc, but Edelstein said he would schedule a vote “when the political situation becomes clear.”

In order to undermine the vote on a replacement Knesset speaker, Edelstein refused to allow the Knesset to convene from Wednesday to Monday, claiming he wanted to give Gantz and Netanyahu time to form a unity government.

Arab48 reported that Ofer Shilah from Blue and White said: “Likud and its allies boycott the Knesset and the committees which started to work because the Knesset for Netanyahu must be controlled only by Likud.”

Likud and Blue and White officials expected that Israel is likely heading for a fourth election, not for a unity government, reported Arab48.

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