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Blue & White advances coalition-building efforts

As the Blue and White political faction advances negotiations toward the building of the next Israeli government, Chairman Benny Gantz will be meeting this coming Monday October 28 with the heads of the Labor-Gesher party, Knesset Members Amir Peretz and Orly Levi.  In conjunction, their respective negotiating teams will meet for a discussion on Tuesday. It is also likely Blue and White will hold discussions with the Democratic Union on Tuesday.

It had already been announced that the Blue and White delegation will be holding their opening talks with the negotiating team of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party on Sunday, in addition to meeting later the same day with Former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu representatives.

All of the meetings will be held at the Kfar Maccabiah Convention Center in Ramat Gan, outside of Tel Aviv.

Blue and White chairman, LTG (res.) Benny Gantz was tasked by President Reuven Rivlin to build a viable coalition on October 23, two days after Prime Minister Netanyahu returned the mandate after his own efforts were unsuccessful. The development marked the Premier’s second failed attempt this year after two rounds of national balloting on September 17 and April 9. Gantz is the 14th candidate in Israeli history to be given the mandate; and the first to break Netanyahu’s unbroken run at the task over the past 11 years.

U.S. Senior Presidential Advisor Jared Kushner is slated to hold his first meeting with Gantz on October 28 at the US Embassy in Jerusalem. Prime Minister Netanyahu will also meet with Kushner and his delegation, which is set to include Brian Hook, the Special U.S. Representative for Iran and Senior Policy Advisor to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Deputy Assistant to the President and Advisor to the Senior White House Advisor Avi Berkowitz.  A senior administration official speaking on condition of anonymity said the purpose of the visit is “to get a sense of coalition building and where the effort stands.” It does not appear likely that Kushner, the primary architect of the U.S. regional peace initiative dubbed “The Deal of the Century,” is any closer to releasing the political aspect of the plan. The economic portion of the initiative was unveiled at a conference in Bahrain last June, which included a $60 billion aid package for the Palestinians.

In other domestic political developments, Speaker of the Knesset, MK Yuli Edelstein, has been presented with the appointment of Blue and White faction MK Avi Nissenkorn as Chairman of the Knesset Regulatory Committee. According to a Blue and White statement to TV7, “MK Nissenkorn stated that due to the ongoing stagnation in the Knesset, he will work to hold substantive discussions and will establish, in cooperation with other house factions, a number of additional committees to address the various needs of the public.”

Former IDF Chief of Staff Gantz has also been invited to serve as the keynote speaker at the main commemoration ceremony marking the 24th anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on November 2.

Gantz’ deadline to from a government is November 20. Failure would be followed by a 3-week window for any MK to undertake the seemingly impossible mission, or Israel will be forced to hold unprecedented third elections, likely on 17 March 2020.

The seismic division among the Israeli constituency forecasts inevitable political gridlock unless there is a significant shift. According to an October 22 public opinion poll conducted by Channel 13, if a third election was held that day the Blue and White would receive 34 mandates, indicating a rise of 1 seat over the September 17 results while the Likud would also garner 1 additional seat for a total of 33. Once again, both of the two main parties fare far too short of the necessary 61-MK ruling majority.