image Photo: Flash 90

Israel seeks unity government despite disagreements

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has once again called on his political rival, Blue and White Chairman Benny Gantz, to put aside all differences and work on establishing a broad national unity government. During a state memorial ceremony for Jerusalem’s late President Shimon Peres, Netanyahu drew an analogy from the country’s 1984 elections. After a near-tie between the Labor and Likud parties, Netanyahu explained, their respective leaders Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Shamir agreed to rotating premierships as part of a unity government to “navigate Israel to a safe shore.” Pointing out that “In this election, too, there is no clear win,” the Premier said “And I call on you, Benny, as the president ordered, let us work together to again bring the State of Israel to safe shores.”

Current Israeli President Reuven Rivlin congratulated Netanyahu for his “important call,” saying that “”I hear well the voices calling for the establishment of a unity government. A wide and stable government.”

Several hours after the Netanyahu appeal, Blue and White Chairman Benny Gantz convened a special press conference. He announced that he will indeed pursue the establishment of a “broad and liberal unity government,” but stressed it would only he would head “a government that will manifest the will of the people and our core promises to the public.”

Senior Blue and White party member Moshe Ya’alon has insisted that any government, whether it be a ‘unity coalition’ or a constellation of multiple parties’ – must exclude Benjamin Netanyahu, due to his upcoming hearing and possible indictment on corruption charges. According to the former Defense Minister, “With him, it will not work.” After making it abundantly clear that “We will not enter a coalition led by Netanyahu,” Ya’alon added that his party “came to fix things, to heal rifts and to get the country back on track. Because with him, it will not work.”

It is worth mentioning that Ya’alon, a onetime top Likud MK, maintains the position largely advocated by Blue and White politicians, that failure to form a ‘unity government’ would render it virtually impossible Gantz to establish a minority coalition. As such, if efforts to negotiate a unity government do ultimately fail yet again, Israel may find itself heading to another third round of unwanted elections.