Asked about his chances of success, the Blue and White leader replied: “We are always optimistic.”
By World Israel News Staff
After incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed President Reuven Rivlin and the Israeli people on Monday that he had failed in forming a new Israeli governing coalition, the president announced that Netanyahu challenger MK Benny Gantz would now get the chance to become Israel’s next prime minister.
In response, Gantz told reporters on Tuesday that “the feeling is terrific.” Asked about his chances of success, the Blue and White leader replied: “We are always optimistic.”
Netanyahu’s inability to form a government meant a continuing period of political instability in Israel that has lasted since December 26, 2018, when the Knesset legislated an early election which took place on April 9.
After that election, Netanyahu failed to cobble together a coalition but did not give Rivlin the opportunity to hand the baton to Gantz. Instead, the prime minister’s party submitted a parliamentary bill to call another Knesset election, which took place on September 17.
In both elections, Netanyahu’s Likud party and Blue and White, headed by Gantz, finished neck and neck. They finished dead even at 35 seats apiece, in the 120-member parliament, in April’s ballot. In September, Blue and White edged out Likud, 33-32.
Because of the deadlock, efforts have concentrated on forming a national unity coalition that would include both Likud and Blue and White.
In a statement on Monday in response to Netanyahu’s admission of failure, Blue and White said it was “determined to form the liberal unity government, headed by Gantz, that the nation elected a month ago.”
In his announcement, Netanyahu accused Gantz of “refusing time after time” to cooperate with the incumbent premier’s efforts to form a unity government.
The prime minister has repeatedly stated that Blue and White needed to work in tandem with him in order to grapple with various diplomatic and security challenges facing the Jewish State.
Senior Likud MKs have argued that Netanyahu should remain at the helm in such a unity coalition because of his experience, as opposed to Gantz who, though he served as Israel’s military chief from 2011 to 2015, has no ministerial cabinet experience.
Netanyahu has served as prime minister from 2009, and before that from 1996 to 1999.
The incumbent premier could soon be indicted in up to three different cases of alleged corruption. The Likud has said that in such a scenario it would agree to a leave of absence on Netanyahu’s part and grant Gantz the position of acting prime minister. The Likud has also expressed a willingness to set up a rotation at the helm between the two leaders.
Gantz will now have 28 days to try to form a governing coalition, and the president could give him an extension if the challenger asks for more time.