For the second day in a row, Israeli media has been dominated by supposed efforts by the Likud and other parties to cancel the September elections. That may yet happen, according to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, but a unity government that would allow a deadlocked Knesset to vote itself back into office is not in the cards, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu confirmed Wednesday.
In a statement, Netanyahu said that “I appreciate the efforts by Edelstein to prevent another round of elections. But I never offered a rotation deal, and until now there has been no official contact on this or any other related matter between the Likud and the Blue and White Party. I have no intention of giving up my natural coalition partners.” Blue and White on Wednesday also denied that any deals were in the works.
Netanyahu issued the statement in response to a wave of reports that he had offered a rotation deal to Blue and White head Benny Gantz. The latest round of stories on the cancellation of the elections came on Tuesday night, when Kan News reported that Edelstein was working to avoid new elections. According to reports, legal experts consulted by the Likud and the Blue and White Party had determined that the Knesset could cancel its dissolution of itself by calling a special emergency meeting and approving legislation – with 80 MKs voting in favor – to cancel the elections.
The next stage would be the establishment of a national unity government which would include the Likud, Blue and White, and Kulanu, as a government would need to be formed immediately after the Knesset vote. Edelstein confirmed that he was working on the issue, and the Likud responded by saying that it would consider any proposal he brought forth. But whatever that government consists of, it will not include a rotation deal between Gantz and himself, Netanyahu said. With that, he said, Edelstein “has asked to meet with me on the election issue in the coming days, and we will do this.”
Meanwhile, senior officials in Blue and White told Kan News Wednesday that “there was no official request from the prime minister or the Knesset Speaker’s office on any of these issues, including a reversal of the dispersion of the Knesset, a rotation agreement with Netanyahu, or the cancellation of the rotation agreement between Gantz and Yair Lapid,” which a deal with Netanyahu would almost certainly entail. In a social media post, Lapid said that he had no problem being part of a Likud-led government. “But one man, just one, needs to step aside in order for that to happen, to go and deal with his indictments. Let the Likud nominate anyone they want, we will have a unity government of 75 MKs, stable, fair and working.”