Likud chief negotiator: Blue and White fakes talks, wants government with Arabs

Likud minister says Blue and White is negotiating with the Joint Arab List to form a minority government.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Likud minister and coalition negotiator Yariv Levin charged that the Blue and White party is only going through the motions in its second meeting with the Likud on Thursday and is uninterested in forming a unity government, the 0404 news site reported in the early afternoon.

“This [meeting] is a public relations ploy that is meant to hide the fact that Blue and White is constantly refusing to accept the president’s outline [for a unity government] and is working to form a minority government with the Joint Arab List,” Levin said.

“I offered my services as an Arabic translator to [Blue and White party heads Benny] Gantz and [Yair] Lapid for their meeting with [Joint List chairman] Ayman Odeh today, since the Blue and White is conducting real negotiations, while with us it’s fake negotiations that are simply a show put on for the media.”

The chances of progress were slim, however, as the Likud went into the meeting sticking to all its demands, including that Benjamin Netanyahu serve in the prime ministerial role first, although Blue and White currently holds the mandate to form the government.

Despite the obstacles, Israel Beiteinu head Avigdor Liberman told Kan Bet on Thursday that a unity government is the only option.

“The Joint List is a fifth column,” he said. “They do not represent the Arabs of Israel. We said that there is only one option, a unity government. I will not address the issue of a minority government.”

There is no agreement within the Blue and White party itself over the issue of whether to accept the support the Joint List, which holds 13 Knesset seats. The party would not be part of the government, but would support it tacitly from outside.

Without Israel Beitenu (8 seats) joining a Blue and White coalition, the issue would be moot as such a government would not have the requisite minimum 61-seat majority.

Does this mean Israel is headed to new elections for the third time in a year?

MK Moshe Gafni of the ultra-Orthodox Degel HaTorah party thinks it’s a growing possibility.

“According to the situation at this moment, we’re going to elections,” he said on Thursday’s “Dekel-Segal” radio show. “But no one wants this. [However,] we’re at a dead end.”