Arabs Set to Recommend Gantz; Liberman Says Still Undecided

Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

President Reuven Rivlin will begin interviewing the heads of parties on Sunday afternoon to hear their recommendations on who he should appoint to attempt to form a government – and while the final decision will be made only earlier Sunday, MK Ahmad Tibi said, it appeared likely that his United Arab List would recommend Benny Gantz for the job.

A weekend meeting between the heads of the four factions that make up the UAL was “a serious and deep discussion,” Tibi told Channel 13. “We did not make a final decision. We will have another meeting Sunday and make a final decision. The main thing is to prevent Binyamin Netanyahu from forming another government.”

Gantz spoke with UAL head Ayman Odeh immediately after the election last Tuesday night, but apparently no commitments were made on either side. The UAL before the election had set several conditions for its support of Gantz, including demands for large sums of money for the Arab sector, and control of key Knesset committees.

With the support of the UAL – and that of his own party, as well as Labor and the Democratic Camp – Gantz will be the choice of 57 MKs to form a government, still short of the 61 needed for Rivlin to give him the mandate. For that, he needs the support of Avigdor Liberman and the seven other MKs of Yisrael Beytenu. As of Motzoei Shabbos, Yisrael Beytenu has not made up its mind on whether or not to recommend Gantz, party officials said.

On Friday, Liberman denied that he had made any deals with Gantz on forming a government. Channel 13 had reported Thursday night that Gantz had told Liberman that he would not form a government without Yisrael Beytenu. “There is no such agreement,” Liberman wrote in a social media post. “Second of all, I appreciate the concern of the media to ensure that I am in the government, but there is no need. We can manage in the government or in the opposition. I have not spoken either to Gantz or Netanyahu and I will not speak with either one until our faction meets on Sunday,” he wrote.