‘Nothing more to say to that bunch,’ says Likud official as coalition negotiations grind to halt

“We will not form a government with them and we will no longer conduct negotiations with them,” he continued.

By World Israel News Staff 

MK Miki Zohar, who chairs Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party faction in the Knesset, said Wednesday that he was preparing for a third parliamentary election within a year after talks with rival Blue and White on forming a national unity government were said to have reached a stalemate.

“A national unity government will not be set up. Blue and White is no longer relevant,” Zohar told Kan public radio.

“We will not form a government with them and we will no longer conduct negotiations with them,” he continued.

“There is nothing more to say to that bunch,” he said, charging that “they decided ahead of time not to establish a government with us and ruled out all the ideas we brought.”

After Netanyahu and Blue and White leader MK Benny Gantz met on Tuesday in Tel Aviv, a spokesman for the prime minister issued a statement, charging that “Blue and White continues to refuse to establish a unity government because of Yair Lapid’s vetoing of a unity government,” a reference to the number two MK on the faction list, who has been viewed as a hardliner in his opposition to sitting in a joint government under Netanyahu’s leadership.

The issue of arranging a rotation between Netanyahu and Gantz as prime minister has been a key point of contention in the negotiations.

“The question is whether Blue and White would agree to sit under Netanyahu [as prime minister] for half a year,” reported Channel 13 TV, in summing up the state of negotiations.

The incumbent prime minister is facing indictments in three cases of alleged corruption but is demanding that he serve first in a rotation because of pressing matters in relations with the Trump administration, said Zohar.

The Likud whip indicated that the two sides were haggling over how long Netanyahu could serve as prime minister from the beginning of the term of the new government: the Likud is said to agree to six months while Blue and White is willing to go as far as five months.

“Five months for Netanyahu’s term – is there anything crazier than that?” Zohar told Kan.

He says that he called the prime minister to inform him of the five-month proposal and that Netanyahu “explained that there are now critical processes [underway] including the deal of the century,” a reference to the long-anticipated Trump peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians “and the defense pact” between the U.S. and Israel.

In September, President Donald Trump  communicated his backing for formulating a bilateral mutual defense pact between the United States and Israel.

If no agreement is reached on the establishment of a new agreement during the next week, Israelis would, in fact, be forced to go the polls for another Knesset election, even though public opinion polls show that the results would be similar to those of the April and September ballots and the stalemate would prevail unless the two largest factions, Likud and Blue and White, would join forces.