Israeli Prime Minister and Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White Chairperson Benny Gantz held a short meeting in Tel Aviv yesterday evening, in last-ditch attempts to find a negotiate the formation of a unity government between their respective Likud and Blue and White parties, to save the country from a third unprecedented national election.
The talks ended after just 45 minutes, prompting a series of accusations from both factions that clearly reflected the deep divide between them.
The two most contentious hurdles to overcome presiding gaps are the issue of who would first serve as Prime Minister in a rotation agreement, and whether members of the right-wing and ultra-orthodox factions in Netanyahu’s political bloc would also participate in a nationwide unity coalition.
Likud officials blame the Blue and White for the ongoing political deadlock, claiming that “Netanyahu offered to pass creative legislation that would anchor the premiership rotation deal and prevent any of the parties from breaking their commitments.” Party officials insist that despite ‘far-reaching concessions,’ the Blue and White continues to refuse to form a unity government.
Blue and White has accused Netanyahu of failing to offer a new deal for a prospective-rotational premiership that befits his current legal status of pending indictment for bribery, fraud and breach of trust. In a written statement, the centrist faction condemned Netanyahu for ‘refusing to commit to not seeking personal immunity in his corruption cases.’
Despite the reciprocal acrimony, both sides stressed that efforts to ‘pursue any channel toward the formation of a government in partnership and unity’ remain undeterred.
Meanwhile in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Netanyahu met with dozens of Likud activists from across the country yesterday evening, in early preparation for the anticipated third round of parliamentary balloting in 12 months. He took advantage of the opportunity to attack his internal party rival, Knesset Member Gideon Saar, saying that the Likud must not crown a candidate who is supported by the left and the media. Netanyahu went on to claim that Sa’ar is in the same political camp as Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, whom he described as politicians who would be incapable of advancing any meaningful political action.
MK Sa’ar responded by condemning what he referred to as the ‘slander campaign against him.’ He said that rather than attack his party’s current party chairman, he intends to mount a different campaign for the Likud leadership that will present a vision and plans for Israel’s future, while maintaining a respectful tone toward other candidates.