Up-and-down unity talks again hit impasse

The unity talks between Likud and Blue and White have taken on a manic-depressive quality.

By David Isaac, World Israel News 

From collapse to hope to collapse and back again, unity talks were reported to be close to a breakthrough on Sunday morning. By afternoon, those hopes were dashed.

On Sunday morning, Blue and White party officials told Israel Hayom that there had been “significant progress” in talks, with the breakthrough coming on Friday. They even suggested everything would be set for an agreement by Monday.

That hopefulness vanished by afternoon when party officials told the paper that talks had bogged down. “Today is the fateful day for negotiations. If by night there isn’t a solution to the problem on the table – it’ll be much more difficult to arrive at an agreement going forward,” the officials said.

Although Gantz’s mandate expired last Wednesday, the two parties have continued discussions toward forming a unity government.

The main stumbling block is reportedly over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s need for assurances against the possibility that the Supreme Court will rule he can’t serve as premier, given his indictment on corruption charges.

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According to the Israel Hayom report, Blue and White is prepared to go to elections if the Supreme Court should act within the 18 months that Netanyahu is to serve as prime minister – part of a rotational leadership agreement after which Blue and White leader Benny Gantz takes over.

However, Blue and White is unwilling to break apart the government after those 18 months if the Supreme Court should act against Netanyahu when Gantz becomes prime minister.

It appears from the report that Netanyahu wants Blue and White to act in concert against any court action throughout the term of the unity government.

The paper also reported on Friday that Netanyahu wanted a proviso within the unity agreement that in case the Supreme Court should act against him an override clause would be passed by 70 Knesset members canceling the court’s ruling.

Blue and White objected to the idea saying it was a “personal” law. However, at the same time Gantz has said he will move ahead on legislation targeting Netanyahu if an agreement is not reached by Monday.

The party has introduced three pieces of legislation designed to prevent Netanyahu from serving as prime minister. The Likud has described those as “personal” laws. The Israel Beiteinu party has introduced two more.

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Gantz, who serves as speaker of the knesset, has the ability to advance legislation in Israel’s parliament.