Channel 13 report: Blue and White leadership switches focus to pursue an emergency unity government with Netanyahu’s Likud party.
By Aaron Sull, World Israel News
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz and senior members of his party unanimously agreed Tuesday that the possibility of forming a minority government with the support of the Arab parties is dead in the water, Channel 13 News reported.
According to the report, Gantz met Tuesday with the other three senior members of the party – Yair Lapid, Moshe Ya’alon and Gabi Ashkenazi – to discuss the chances of forming a minority government.
All of them agreed it was unlikely to happen and decided instead to focus on pursuing an emergency unity government with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.
Ashkenazi suggested that Blue and White should show a gesture of good faith to the Likud and stop its fight to replace Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein with a candidate of their own, the report said.
Gantz’s tone apparently changed after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged him to set aside their “small” differences and form a unity government.
“Benny Gantz, this is the moment of truth for leadership and national responsibility,” Netanyahu tweeted. “The citizens of Israel need a unity government which will act to save their lives and livelihoods. This is not the time for fourth elections.”
“We both know that the differences between us are small, and that they can be overcome to form a government. Let’s meet now and form a government today. I’m waiting for you,” he wrote.
Gantz tweeted back that his first order of business was to resolve the conflict surrounding who will be the speaker of parliament after Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein tendered his resignation instead of obeying a Supreme Court directive to convene the house to choose a new speaker.
“First of all, I will restore Israeli democracy to full function, then I intend to discuss all possible ways of establishing a unity government that will fight corona and address the additional challenges we face,” Gantz said.
“Netanyahu, the gaps between us are substantial,” Gantz said. “I am fighting for the activation of Israeli democracy, and I hope you will join me in these efforts.”
“Israeli democracy must not be trampled in the name of the coronavirus crisis that requires thorough treatment – medically, socially and economically. Not on my watch,” he said.
Last week, Gantz was tapped by President Reuven Rivlin to form a new government following Israel’s inconclusive March 2 elections and has 28 days to complete the task.
Shortly afterward, despite prior promises not to do so, Gantz reached out to the Arab parties in a bid to secure their support for a minority government.