Israeli union boss calls on Labor Party to consider Netanyahu government

Labor’s inclusion in a Netanyahu-led coalition would likely give the incumbent prime minister a parliamentary majority. 

By World Israel News Staff 

The leader of Israel’s chief labor union is calling on the Labor Party to negotiate with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toward joining the next Israeli government.

If Labor were to join, it would likely put the prime minister over the top, giving him a 61-seat majority in the 120-member Knesset.

President Reuven Rivlin granted Netanyahu a mandate on Wednesday night to try to form a government. The incumbent prime minister’s Likud party won 32 seats in the September 17 election, compared to 33 for Blue and White, headed by MK Benny Gantz, but Blue and White’s ideological path to a parliamentary majority is considered more difficult.

The smaller parties considered natural partners in a Netanyahu-led government, right-wing and religious, would give Likud a 55-seat coalition. Labor, which ran together with a party called Gesher, won six seats in the recent election.

“If Blue and White can sit with the Likud, Amir Peretz can also listen to what they have to offer,” said Arnon Bar-David, chairman of the Histadrut Labor Federation in an interview with IDF Radio.

Peretz, the current Labor Party leader, is a former Histadrut chairman.

Bar-David was referring to efforts between Likud and Blue and White to form a national unity government, which have failed so far, though such a scenario is still not being ruled out.

Bar-David echoed Rivlin’s complaint that too many Israeli politicians are ruling out other parties as potential partners in a government.

Peretz was very firm during the election campaign in stating that he would not sit in a Netanyahu-led government, to the extent that he shaved off his legendary mustache in an election ad so that people could more easily read his lips, he said.

Labor, which led the government in the 1990s that signed agreements with the Palestinians that formed the self-rule Palestinian Authority in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza and which aimed to establish a Palestinian state, is currently more focused on socio-economic issues.

It is going through its worst crisis, with its poorest showings ever in both the April and September Knesset elections.