Gantz rejects Netanyahu’s unity appeal; Blue and White calls it ‘cynical ploy’

Gantz said he wouldn’t take up Netanyahu’s offer. “Blue and White won the elections. Blue and White is the biggest party,” he said.

By World Israel News Staff 

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer to form a unity government, deriding it as “spin.” Just prior to Gantz’s public rejection, a senior Blue and White leader described Netanyahu’s offer as “a cynical ploy.”

“We won’t succumb to any imposition. To form a unity government, one doesn’t come with political blocs and spin but with seriousness and responsibility,” Gantz said at a party meeting on Thursday.

Gantz was responding to an online post by Netanyahu on Thursday, in which the prime minister said, “Benny, we must establish a broad unity government today. The nation expects us, both of us, to show responsibility and work together.”

But Gantz rejected Netanyahu’s offer, saying “Blue and White won the elections. Blue and White is the biggest party. I intend to form a broad unity government headed by me, which would reflect the people’s choice and our basic promises to the public and our priorities.”

Yair Lapid, No 2. in the Blue and White faction, also dismissed Netanyahu’s move. “He’s simply unwilling to accept the results of the election. One person is preventing the formation of a liberal unity government. One person.”

“That’s the aim of the bloc of extortionists and extremists he created yesterday,” he said, referring to a coalition of right-wing parties that Netanyahu pulled together immediately after the elections to prevent the formation of a center-left government.

Earlier, a senior member of the Blue and White faction told Israel’s Ynet news site anonymously that Netanyahu was planting a trap by calling on Gantz to meet about forming a unity government.

The senior official called Netanyahu’s invitation a “cynical, insulting political ploy” to ultimately blame Blue and White for causing the failure of a unity effort and forcing the Israeli public to vote in yet another Knesset election.

With 97.8 percent of the vote counted by around midday on Thursday, Blue and White reportedly held a 33 to 31 seat lead over Netanyahu’s Likud party in the 120-member parliament.

After holding consultations with the newly-elected factions, President Reuven Rivlin will decide who should be given the first crack at trying to form a government coalition.

Rivlin, Netanyahu, and Gantz appeared together on Thursday at a memorial ceremony for the late President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres. In a show of unity, Gantz and Netanyahu, joined by Rivlin, shook hands at the Peres memorial on Thursday.

At the time, Gantz declined to react directly to reporters’ questions about potential unity talks, but said: “I have come to a memorial for Peres. He always put himself after the good of the state.”