Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz to meet Wednesday


Staff member
Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz to meet Wednesday
Coalition negotiation meeting ends without progress.
By Gil Hoffman, Lahav Harkov
September 29, 2019

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz plan to meet on Wednesday evening in a last-ditch attempt to form a unity government. The Likud’s spokesman announced the meeting shortly after Likud and Blue and White negotiating teams concluded a Sunday morning meeting without any progress. Netanyahu called Gantz, who is spending the Rosh Hashanna holiday in London, to make a final effort in coalition negotiations. He said they should meet upon Gantz’s return to Israel, and even offered to go to Gantz’s home in Rosh Ha’ayin.

The party leaders decided that their negotiating teams would meet Wednesday morning and the two of them would meet that evening. This went contrary to previous indications from Netanyahu’s camp that he would return his mandate to form a government to President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday if there was no breakthrough in negotiations. "The Likud is very disappointed that Blue and White was unwilling to compromise," the party said after Sunday morning’s meeting. Blue and White blamed the lack of progress on the Likud for not giving up its demand to negotiate as a bloc of 55 MKs on the Right.

"Unfortunately, the Likud is sticking with its 'Netanyahu comes first' precondition," a Blue and White spokeswoman said. "The Likud is insisting on sticking with its bloc of 55 MKs and empty slogans that will result in Netanyahu dragging Israel into an unnecessary third election. Israel deserves a broad, liberal unity government under Gantz and we will continue to work for this goal." The Likud complained that Blue and White did not answer the question of whether Netanyahu could start out as prime minister as part of a compromise initiated by Rivlin. Likud officials said no progress could be made because Gantz is abroad.

Rivlin’s compromise is meant to resolve the issue of Blue and White promising not to sit in a Netanyahu-led government as long as he is under a recommended indictment or under indictment. The law currently allows for a minister to take the prime minister’s place if he is incapacitated, for up to 100 days. Rivlin suggested it be amended to create an official position of deputy prime minister, add indictment to a possible reason for the deputy to take over, and to extend the replacement period to be far longer. Netanyahu nodded when Rivlin described this proposal last week.

Rivlin also suggested a “parity government,” meaning that the government portfolios would be split evenly between the right-wing bloc and Blue and White. This way, Blue and White, with 33 seats, would have equal executive power to the 55-seat Right. This is meant to resolve Blue and White’s rejection of the Likud negotiating in the name of the entire Right. If there is no progress on Wednesday, Netanyahu may return his mandate to form a government to Rivlin, who is then expected to task Gantz with building a coalition.

After the end of the meeting between the two delegations, Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman renewed his invitation to the two parties to agree on a unity government on the eve of the new Jewish year. "There is not much ideological difference between Likud and Blue and White. Therefore, differences in opinions can easily be overcome. The Likud voters did not vote for Gafni, Deri, Litzman, or Smotrich, but for 32 MKs, and among them Netanyahu, Edelstein, Sa'ar and Arden," Liberman wrote on Facebook, listing both the leaders of the religious parties and a some of the most prominent members of Likud, including Netanyahu's political rival Gideon Sa'ar, as well as the prime minister himself.

"For the upcoming new year, I urge you, show responsibility, put your ego and personal interests aside, and establish a government that will begin to address the problems and challenges we face," he concluded.


Staff member
Netanyahu phones Gantz in ‘last effort’ after unity talks end without progress
Likud says rival leaders to meet Wednesday for last-ditch discussions on forming joint government; PM’s pre-indictment hearing begins the same day
By Raoul Wootliff
29 September 2019

Negotiations between representatives from the Likud party and its rival, Blue and White, over the possibility of forming a unity government ended early Sunday afternoon with both sides blaming the other for a lack of progress and apparent breakdown of the talks. Likud said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would make a final attempt to reach agreements on Wednesday — the same day his pre-indictment hearing begins with the attorney general — in direct talks with his counterpart from Blue and White, Benny Gantz.

Immediately after the Sunday meeting, Blue and White released a statement saying that “regrettably, Likud is sticking to its precondition of ‘Netanyahu first.’ Within this framework, Likud is insistent on the 55-member bloc and on throwing around slogans with the sole aim of generating support in preparation for dragging Israel into another round of elections at the behest of Netanyahu.”

The party added: “The State of Israel needs a broad, stable and liberal unity government under the leadership of Benny Gantz — we will continue to pursue this goal and this goal alone.” In its own statement, Likud said that the lack of progress was due to “Blue and White’s refusal to accept the unity government [proposed by] the president of the state — an equal government with a rotation between Netanyahu and Gantz.” Likud said that Blue and White made “a strategic decision to slam the door to a unity government and drag the state into elections.”

While Netanyahu is now expected to tell President Reuven Rivlin that he is unable to form a majority government, Likud said he will “make a last effort to realize the possibility of forming a government at this stage, before returning the mandate to the president.” Netanyahu and Gantz will meet on Wednesday evening, Likud said, after the Blue and White leader returns from a trip to London. The prime minister phoned Gantz to set up the appointment and offered to come to his home on Wednesday for the talks, Likud said. The negotiators from both parties will also convene again on Wednesday morning, Netanyahu’s party said.

In a later statement, Blue and White called for direct talks between Netanyahu and Gantz, without confirming a meeting had been scheduled. “Following a conversation between Blue and White chairman, LTG (res.) Benny Gantz and the prime minister and Likud chairman, we are calling once again for direct negotiations between Likud and Blue and White on the basis of forming a broad and liberal unity government,” it said.

“This is our goal and we will take all possible steps to achieve it in this new year. We will spare no effort and hold every possible meeting in order to advance our aim. Only through direct negotiations between Blue and White and Likud can we reach an agreement that will result in the establishment of a unity government and avoid an unnecessary third election.”

Netanyahu was charged by Rivlin on Wednesday night with trying to form a government based on the strength of his pact with right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties to negotiate as a bloc of 55 MKs, and given 28 days to do so. Gantz, his rival, heads a bloc of 54 MKs from the center, left and Arab parties, but the 10 Arab MKs in that group would not join a Gantz-led coalition. Neither candidate has a clear path to a 61-strong Knesset majority.

Rivlin therefore proposed a unity government in which power would be equally divided and Netanyahu and Gantz would each serve two years as prime minister. Rivlin implied, but did not specify, that Netanyahu would take an open-ended leave of absence if or when he is indicted in one or more of the three criminal probes in which he faces charges, including one count of bribery, pending a hearing. Under the arrangement set out by Rivlin, Gantz, as “interim prime minister” in such a scenario, would enjoy all prime ministerial authority.

Netanyahu has not said he would step down if charged, and, under Israeli law, may not be required to do so. Many legal scholars believe a prime minister could remain in power even if convicted, and would only be required to resign once all appeal processes were exhausted. Blue and White has said that it will not partner Likud in a coalition unless Netanyahu steps down.

Gantz’s Blue and White won 33 seats in the September 17 elections, ahead of Likud’s 32 out of 120 seats in the Knesset. Avigdor Liberman’s eight-seat Yisrael Beytenu party holds the balance of power between the blocs, and insists that Likud and Blue and White form a unity government without ultra-Orthodox, “messianist,” left-wing and Arab parties.

On Saturday, the Likud party said in a statement that Netanyahu instructed his negotiating team “to make every possible effort to advance a broad unity government” during talks on Sunday. Should Blue and White refuse to accept the president’s proposed framework or propose a “realistic” alternative, it added, however, “Netanyahu is very likely to return the mandate.” To do so, Netanyahu would have to officially inform the president that he is unable to form a government.

If Netanyahu admits failure, Rivlin would probably then invite Gantz to try to build a majority, but his Blue and White party considers it extremely unlikely that Knesset members from Netanyahu’s Likud would revolt against their leader, and thus see no real path for Gantz to form a government. Netanyahu, who faces fraud and breach of trust charges in three cases, and bribery in one of them, is scheduled for a hearing starting Wednesday with the attorney general, his last opportunity to avoid prosecution.

Netanyahu, who denies all the charges and claims he is the victim of a political witch hunt involving the media, the opposition, the police and state prosecutors, on Thursday urged Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to allow his pre-indictment hearing to be broadcast live, but Mandelblit rejected the “unprecedented” suggestion, labeling it a media stunt.

Almost Heaven

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Blue and White cancels Wednesday's unity talks with Netanyahu's Likud

Wednesday's meeting was widely seen as the last effort to salvage the crumbling unity talks

In a surprising U-turn, Benny Gantz's Blue and White alliance cancelled Wednesday's meeting with Netanyahu's Likud on Tuesday night.

According to the bloc's statement, the pre-conditions necessary for the talks to yield any results have not been met.

Blue and White said, however, that the meeting could be held later this or next week, "when deemed appropriate and necessary".

Likud pushed back with fire and fury, putting the blame on Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party which is part of the Blue and White bloc, who supposedly sabotaged the unity government due to his discontent with the idea of a Netanyahu-Gantz rotation in the Prime Minister's office.

Earlier, it was reported that Blue and White and Likud were to hold a meeting widely seen as the last effort to salvage the unity talks, which collapsed on Sunday.

Media reports also speculated that, should the meeting yield no new results, the incumbent Prime Minister would be forced to return the mandate to President Rivlin, setting the stage for his rival to try and build up a coalition.


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Stalling tactics by Gantz perhaps to see if those indictment chargers are in full swing or lessened on Bibi ..... Gantz might just get that new Likud partner and form a unity party with him and Gantz leading the charge as PM.????