Prime Minister Netanyahu announced last night, just 48 hours before his mandate to try to ‘piece together’ a next Israeli government was due to expire, that he had been unable to complete the aspired task.
In a filmed statement published on social media, Netanyahu accused his political rival – blue and white chairman Benny Gantz of bearing full responsibility for his second consecutive failure to form a broad national unity government. The Likud head said,“A short while ago, I informed the president that I am returning him the mandate to form a government. Since receiving the mandate, I worked unceasingly, both openly and secretly, to form a broad national unity government. This is what the people want and this is also what Israel needs in light of security challenges that are growing every day, every hour. In the past weeks I made every effort to bring Benny Gantz to the negotiating table, every effort to establish a broad national government, every effort to avoid another election. To my sorrow, he simply refused time and again.”
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin is now expected to grant Blue and White Chairman Benny Gantz a 28-day mandate to try to form the next government. Senior political officials told TV7 that since Netanyahu’s Likud failed to hammer-out the wide range of differences with Gantz’s Blue and White, the mandated’ task of forming a new government may prove near impossible. One of the officials explained that unless Gantz convinces Netanyahu’s Likud to join a narrow coalition, his only alternative would be to turn left, by establishing a minority government with the support of the United Arab List. While the Arab parties refuse to join any Israeli administration, they could support a coalition from the Knesset’s opposition by voting against future no-confidence bills that would aim to topple a government headed by Benny Gantz. If such a reality would materialize, however, Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to personally head a combative opposition that actively seek to promptly replace such a minority government. According to Netanyahu “The minority government will be erected with the support of members of the United (Arab) List. Those that glorify terror, those that reject the existence of the state of Israel. The Arab parties already recommended Gantz to the President, precisely as I cautioned before the elections. And now, just recently, they boycotted the Knesset’s (parliament) inauguration and refused to declare loyalty to the state of Israel. How could a minority government of (Blue and White Chairman Benny) Gantz, that leans on these parties (United Arab List), how could it battle terror, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran? The answer is simple – it cannot. If Gantz is tempted to form such a dangerous (minority) government, I will head the Opposition, and will act together with my friends to replace it promptly.
Netanyahu who Israel’s longest serving Prime Minister went on to say that ‘not all hope is lost’. He insisted that if Gantz were to come to his senses and were to abandon the idea of forming a minority government, an agreement could be reached on forming a broad unity government. “If Gantz will come to his senses and free himself from the grasp of Lapid and Lieberman, if he will abandon the idea of a minority government – together we will be able to form the government that the state of Israel needs so much at this time — a broad national unity government of all those who believe in the state of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. This was the solution and this is still the solution,” he said.
Shortly after Netanyahu’s announcement, Gantz posted on his twitter account: “the time has come, Blue and White.” In a statement to TV7, the Blue and White party wrote: “The time of spin is over, and it is now time for action. Blue and White is determined to form the liberal unity government, led by Benny Gantz, that the people of Israel voted for a month ago.”