Israel’s president pushes for unity government – report

President Herzog reportedly pressed Prime Minister Lapid and Defense Minister Gantz to agree to form national unity government in bid to prevent establishment of narrow right-wing government.

By World Israel News Staff

President Isaac Herzog made two attempts to coax center-left lawmakers into forming a national unity government with the Likud, in a bid to prevent the establishment of a narrow right-wing government, Israel’s Channel 12 reported Tuesday.

According to the report, President Herzog twice urged Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz to drop their opposition to forming a unity government with Likud chief Benjamin Netanyahu.

Herzog, who ran at the helm of the Labor party in 2015 and lost to then-premier Benjamin Netanyahu, reached out to Lapid and Gantz following the official publication of the preliminary vote count last week, but was rebuffed by both leaders.

The president reportedly urged Lapid and Gantz Tuesday morning to reconsider their opposition, but was again flatly refused.

Gantz’s National Unity party and Herzog’s office both denied the report, issuing separate statements pushing back on the claims made by Channel 12.

“In contrast to the report, the president has not appealed to nor asked any party leaders to form such a government or any other,” Herzog’s office said. “It should be emphasized that the process of recommending candidates at the president’s residence will start only tomorrow, and only after that will a mandate be given for forming a new government.”

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A spokesperson for the National Unity party said that the “president did not call upon the Defense Minister and National Unity chairman regarding joining a unity government.”

“We are headed for the Opposition.”

According to a separate report by Kan Reshet Bet Tuesday morning, the relationship between Gantz and Lapid has deteriorated significantly following last Tuesday’s election, and the two leaders are currently not on speaking terms.

Last week, Lapid came under fire from center-left lawmakers who blamed the prime minister for the coalition’s defeat in the Knesset election.

“[Lapid] behaved like a cannibalistic pig who tried to eliminate [the other parties in his bloc] in order to be the biggest one, and this is the result,” said one party official from the center-left bloc, according to Channel 12.

“Lapid acted recklessly, did not manage the bloc, did not take care of the Arabs and did not take care of the surplus agreements.”