Breakaway opposition MK throws support behind Netanyahu

Orly Levi-Abekasis’s decision returns her to the right side of the political aisle where she began her political career.

By David Isaac, World Israel News 

Orly Levi-Abekasis, head of the Gesher party, said on Monday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the candidate best suited to form a government. Her announcement on Facebook came only 36 hours before Blue and White leader Benny Gantz’s mandate expires.

“New situation – a realistic conclusion,” Levi-Abekasis wrote on Facebook.

“Gantz’s appeal to the president of the state to extend the mandate is a message regarding his inability to form a government. It is intended to earn time as a means of exerting pressure on the stuck negotiations. A pressure whose purpose is to squeeze from the opposite party further concessions and more political centers of power…

“This in addition to the rotational and equal representation that goes against any proportional logic in a normal situation,” Levi-Abekasis wrote, referring to the fact that Gantz’s party, (after Blue and White’s breakup) has 15 seats to Likud’s 36 but will have an equal number of ministers in the proposed unity government.

“Negotiations that started out of concern about the danger of coronavirus have become a strange political deceit accompanied by threats to the prime minister: If you do not meet our demands, we will present in the Knesset bills that will personally disqualify you from serving. It is amazing to hear such selective morals from the mouths of those who promised clean politics,” Levi-Abekasis wrote.

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“The prime minister should be given the mandate, because let’s admit that only he has a chance to form a government,” she added.

Netanyahu shared her tweet, replying on Twitter, “Orly, welcome.”

Levi-Abekasis’s decision returns her to the right side of the political aisle where she began her political career. There were signs that she was drifting away from the center-left opposition when she announced she wouldn’t support a government that relied on the Arab Joint List. She described the idea as “scandalous.”

Levi-Abekasis started out as a member of Avigdor Liberman’s Israel Beiteinu party. She started her own party Gesher and joined Labor and Meretz in a faction that ran in the March 2 elections. The faction split apart following the disintegration of Blue and White after Benny Gantz agreed to join a unity government with Netanyahu.

Gantz had promised never to join with Netanyahu, who is facing indictment in three corruption cases. When Gantz broke his promise he opened the floodgates for others to break theirs, including Amir Peretz, leader of Labor.

Levi-Abekasis’ support gives Netanyahu the support of 59 Knesset members in Israel’s parliament. After her announcement, President Reuven Rivlin said he would not extend Gantz’s mandate to form a government and instead send the mandate directly to the Knesset.