Lead Likud negotiator: We agree to let Gantz step in if Netanyahu’s indicted

The Likud agrees to President Rivlin’s suggestion that Netanyahu let Gantz fill in as acting-prime minister in the event he’s indicted. 

By World Israel News Staff

Leading Likud negotiator Yariv Levin said that the Likud party views with favor President Reuven Rivlin’s suggestion that if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is indicted on corruption charges he will allow Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to step in as acting-prime minister until he deals with his legal cases.

“We think the direction he suggested is right, we need to dwell on the details,” Levin, who is Tourism Minister, told Kan Reshet Bet on Thursday, referring to Rivlin’s suggestion that Netanyahu allow Gantz to take on the role of prime minister should Netanyahu be indicted.

According to Rivlin’s idea, Netanyahu would not reassume the premiership until the court case is finished. But he also would not officially step down as prime minister. Gantz would be an acting-prime minister.

“We understand that if we go to a unity government with Blue and White, then Netanyahu will not be prime minister the whole term,” Levin said.

“It is time that Blue and White realize that there is no other possible government and no other alternative. It is not what we hoped for but it’s much better than third elections, which everything must be done to avoid,” he said.

Rivlin made his suggestion in the hopes of helping along the process toward a unity government, which he has said is the best answer to break the deadlock between Likud and Blue and White.

Both parties emerged from the September 17 elections practically even. Blue and White received 33 Knesset seats to Likud’s 32. However, Likud edges out Blue and White slightly in terms of the broader coalition numbers. It has 55 to Blue and White’s 54.

The Likud appears serious about forming a unity government. On Wednesday evening, when receiving the mandate to try and form a government, Netanyahu said the “order of the hour is a unity government – a broad national unity government, and I say, quickly.”

Rivlin’s decision to hand Netanyahu a mandate was in fact an admission that unity talks had stalled.

The Likud blamed Blue and White for the breakdown in talks, specifically the party’s co-leader Yair Lapid, who had been in France during the initial contacts.

The Likud said Lapid had torpedoed talks with his refusal to join a government led by Netanyahu.

One of Blue and White’s central campaign promises was that it would not sit in a government that included Netanyahu.

On Wednesday, Lapid tweeted, “Benny Gantz will be prime minister and Bibi will go to handle his criminal cases. Likud’s transparent attempts to cause disputes doesn’t impress anyone on our side.”