Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed members of his Likud party yesterday, during which he announced a unanimous decision by the heads of a so-called ‘bloc of right-wing and ultra-orthodox factions,’ to advance negotiations toward the establishment of the next government under his leadership.
The Premier gave no indication on how he intends to overcome the Likud’s current lack of a majority support in the Knesset, but instead declared that there “only two options are left – either a government under my leadership, or a dangerous government dependent on the Arab parties.”
At this time, more than ever, especially with the tremendous security challenges we face, a government reliant on the Arab, anti-Zionist parties must not be formed,” the Israeli leader cautioned, adding that “We will make every effort to prevent the creation of this dangerous government.”
While Netanyahu described the ‘right-wing bloc’ as ‘an accomplished fact,’ THE Prime Minister’s so-called “natural coalition partners” insisted that negotiations will have to satisfy their apparent lack of confidence. One of those faction heads, Bezalel Smotrich, emphasized this morning that binding agreements must be formulated to avoid a situation in which the right-wing parties gave their support to Netanyahu…. after which he would ultimately join Blue and White Chairman Benny Gantz to form a unity government without them. During consultations with the Prime Minister at his residence in Jerusalem this morning, the leaders of his pro’spective right-wing alliance reportedly discussed the creation of a union as part of the coalition-building process. They are also believed to have provided the Premier with a list of their demands in exchange for their support as well as their recommendation that he be assigned with the task of forming the next government by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. In spite of these efforts, and in light of an announcement by the ‘Central Elections Committee’ that with 96.5 percent of the votes in, the Blue and White faction has attained an additional mandate at the expense of the Likud party – Netanyahu released a video, in which he called on the rival faction’s Chairman, Benny Gantz, to form a wide unity government to avert an unnecessary third round of elections. Netanyahu said: “I now call you, Knesset member Benny Gantz: Benny, we must set up a broad unity government, as soon as today. The nation expects us, both of us, to demonstrate responsibility and that we pursue cooperation. This is why I call you, Benny, let’s meet today, at any time, to start this move, which is the need of the hour. We must not, and there is no reason for us to get to third elections. I oppose this. The need of the hour is a broad unity government, as soon as today.”
Senior Blue and White officials responded to Netanyahu’s call by that no matter the circumstances, former IDF Chief of Staff Gantz – who received the largest amount of mandates from the Israeli public – will serve at the helm of any future government.