“The two [parties] discussed the existing political options and agreed that the negotiating teams will continue to be in contact,” said a joint statement from Netanyahu’s Likud and his Blue and White rivals.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz met in Tel Aviv on Sunday to discuss the prospects of establishing a unity government, but showed no breakthrough in the negotiations.
The two met after Gantz received the mandate to establish a government from President Reuven Rivlin last week, following Netanyahu’s failure to accomplish the feat.
A joint statement by Netanyahu’s Likud and Blue and White said that during the meeting, the “two discussed the existing political options. It was also agreed that the negotiating teams will continue to be in contact.”
Another meeting is expected between the two.
Prior to their meeting, teams from both parties met to negotiate the prospects of forming a jointly led government but concluded with no significant progress. Similar meetings took place when Likud had the mandate to form a government, and it appears that no new ideas were put forward by either side.
The Likud, which represents 55 Members of Knesset (MK) from the right-wing parties, stated after the meeting that Blue and White representatives “once again refused to accept the outline of the president, which is the only way to establish a broad national unity government.” Rivlin put forward several guidelines for forming a unity government, which have been endorsed by Likud.
Likud also warned against forming a minority government that relies on the Arab parties as “being dangerous to Israel.”
“Blue and White representatives refused to pledge that this dangerous minority government would not be formed,” the Likud charged. Such a government would consist of 44 MKs which is supported by the Arab MKs from the opposition.
Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin, who is leading the Likud negotiations team, expressed hope that Blue and White would change its approach at the next meetings and that it would abandon the notion of forming a minority government with the support of the Arab parties, leading to “practical and swift” discussions.
Blue and White stated that attendees at the meeting were “in good spirits.”
The Likud continued to insist throughout the meeting that it represents the block of 55 MKs and is not prepared for any compromise on the issue, Blue and White charged. Blue and White demands to negotiate with the Likud alone.
The parties agreed to continue talks.
Blue and White held meetings with other parties as well, with no outcome.
Netanyahu stated earlier in the day during the weekly Cabinet meeting that Israel “must make tough decisions that require a government with broad shoulders, hence the importance of forming a broad national unity government. This is not a political question, but a national and security question of the highest order.”
He expressed hope that “we can advance this goal in the coming days. This was my goal immediately after the elections and it remains our goal. This is what the State of Israel needs now.”
Blue and White has until mid-November, and if no significant progress is made, Israel may be forced to vote again at the beginning of March, for the third time in a year.