Israel poised for political drama as Gantz’s mandate to form a govt comes to an end

November 21, 2019 by Arye Green -TPS
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Blue and White leader Member of Knesset (MK) Benny Gantz on Wednesday began the last day of his presidential mandate to form a government without the necessary support for establishing a viable coalition while hoping to make significant advancement by the day’s end.

Benny Gantz, leader of Blue and White Party, speaks at the mass rally, marking 24 years since the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv, Nov 2, 2019. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/TPS

Gantz met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday night in a last-minute attempt to reach an understanding that would pave the way to a unity government with the Likud party.

The meeting ended with no breakthrough, as both sides blamed the other for not making the necessary compromise to end the stalemate.

Gantz said Netanyahu’s insistence on keeping his right-wing political bloc of 55 members is preventing any breakthrough, and that a unity government must be based on the two largest political parties.

“The major parties will set the government’s basic principles, and therefore, it cannot be built on the basis of a sectoral bloc. A third round of elections is terrible, but we cannot give up our basic principles and core values,” he tweeted after the meeting.

“Truth be told – Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly refuses unity and will do anything to push for elections for the third time in a year,” he added in a Facebook post on Wednesday morning.

Netanyahu blamed Gantz for the deadlock after he rejected President Reuven Rivlin’s plan for the establishment of a unity government.

“Unfortunately, I understood from the meeting with Gantz that he rejects the president’s plan, ignoring the will of most of the people who would like to see us establish a broad national unity government together,” he said.

Netanyahu again warned that Blue and White intends to form a left-wing minority government supported by the Arab-majority Joint List party.

Yisrael Beiteinu leader MK Avigdor Liberman gave the party leaders an ultimatum to reach an agreement until Wednesday at noon, after which he may join a coalition with either one of them.

“If by Wednesday at noon we will not reach an agreement – then it’s every man for himself. What is worse – a narrow government or a third election? That is a good question. I will assess the situation then. I hope we all succeed in overcoming all obstacles and establish a unity government,” he said.

Gantz has until Wednesday at midnight to form a government. If he fails to do so, the mandate will return to Rivlin, who will then give the Knesset 21 days to nominate an MK who will attempt to form a government. Such a nominee would have to enjoy the support of more than half of the MKs.

If no MK receives the necessary support, or if the nominee fails to form a government, Israeli citizens may be forced to vote again at the beginning of March, for the third time within a year.

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