Sunday, 13 October, 2019

Benny Gantz appears cool to Netanyahu's pitch for unity government in Israel

Benjamin Netanyahu calls for power sharing deal amid election stalemate, but chief rival Benny Gantz says no Netanyahu's rival rejects call to let him lead centrist coalition
Patty Aguilar | 20 September, 2019, 01:30

With almost all votes counted Thursday, the centrist Blue and White party stood at 33 seats in Israel's 120-seat parliament. A ruling coalition needs at least 61 seats out of a total of 120 in the Israeli parliament, or Knesset.

On Thursday, Netanyahu called on Gantz to join him and his traditional allies in a unity government.

"We can not and there is no reason to go to third elections". "He and Yitzhak Shamir agreed to cooperate, to navigate Israel's path to safety", Netanyahu said in remarks at the service.

The ex-military chief said his alliance had the most seats and he should lead the next government.

"During the elections, I called for the establishment of a right-wing government".

"Netanyahu, who is not prepared to accept the decision of the voters and admit his failure, is holding on to the corners of the altar and trying to give the impression that the Likud won the election, called for a unity government, and that Gantz and Liberman stymied this process", said Liberman.

He called for cooperation and urged Gantz to quickly set up a "broad unity government". But the fiercely loyal Likud is unlikely to oust Netanyahu. "But the responsibility for this, as well as the responsibility for forming a government that serves all the citizens of Israel with the dedication it deserves, is yours", he added. "Therefore there is no choice but to form a broad unity government". He shrugged off Netanyahu's offer as "spin". "One person is preventing the formation of a liberal unity government".

Once the final results are in, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin will call each of the party heads to his office for consultation and ask each to recommend either Netanyahu or Gantz to form a government.

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Israel's president will consult in the coming days with all parties before selecting the candidate he believes has the best chance of forming a stable coalition. And in light of what happened now, a government that will amend the election law so that it won't be possible to drag us to new elections every three months. Speaking at the Peres memorial, Rivlin promised he would do everything in his power to prevent a third election.

But in today's Israel - a polarized country with Netanyahu one of its most polarizing figures - a unity government would be a tough sell, even if the two party leaders begin to talk.

The two must sides must now come together to form a coalition government or else face an unprecedented third election.

Gantz campaigned on the promise that he would not join any government with the participation of Netanyahu, who is under a legal cloud as he confronts imminent indictment on several corruption charges.

Blue and White officials considered letting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu receive the mandate first, in hopes that he would fail and it would be easier to get Likud to overthrow him, but that strategy was not adopted.

Naftali Bennet of the far-right Yamina party tweeted that Gantz should "immediately answer Prime Minister Netanyahu's call to meet, and stop with this silly boycott".

The comments came during a panel discussion at Harvard University in which Tillerson, who was sacked by the president past year, touched on a variety of themes from his tenure, including Iran, his hiring freeze at the State Department and the unpredictable nature of Israel's longest-serving prime minister, Netanyahu.

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