One of the reasons Israel faces its second Knesset election in a year is because Binyamin Netanyahu was unable to form a coalition of 61 MKs – including any members of Blue and White, the rival party which, like the Likud, got 35 Knesset seats. That was because the former officially refused to join a Netanyahu-led coalition – but that may change after the September election, according to Blue and White MK Yoaz Hendel.
In a social media post Wednesday, Hendel said that “everyone in our party has their own style. Benny Gantz is a very formal person. We have been trying to draw lessons from the April election. We actually had come to an agreement that Netanyahu could be part of a coalition as long as no indictments were issued against him.” Even more, Hendel wrote, “if the Likud is willing to guarantee that Netanyahu will recuse himself if an indictment is issued, I am willing to build a coalition with him.”
Netanyahu’s attorneys are currently reviewing the materials collected by police in their investigations of the four cases against the prime minister: Case 1000, in which Netanyahu is accused of accepting extravagant gifts from millionaire Arnon Milchin, mostly cigars and champagne; Case 2000, in which the prime minister allegedly leaned on the publishers of Yisrael Hayom to limit distribution of their free newspaper in order to benefit from better coverage in rival newspaper Yediot Acharonot; and Case 4000, also known as the Bezeq-Walla News Case, an influence-peddling probe that alleges that Netanyahu offered his good services to Israeli billionaire Shaul Elovich in return for positive coverage on the Walla news site.
Netanyahu has repeatedly said that the charges are nonsense, and that the truth would come out when his attorneys have an opportunity to examine the evidence. The prime minister faces a hearing on each of the cases – the dates of which have not yet been set – after which State Attorney Avichai Mandelblit will decide on whether or not to recommend that Netanyahu be indicted and tried. If indictments are issued, the charges could range from corruption to breach of trust, depending on the case.
Gantz and his coleader in Blue and White, Yair Lapid, had stressed numerous times before, during and after the election that they would not join a coalition led by Netanyahu as long as there was a possibility he would be indicted for anything. Blue and White did not have any official comment on Hendel’s posts.