After Consultations Completed, Rivlin Invites Netanyahu and Gantz to Meet

YERUSHALAYIM -
President Reuven Rivlin speaks with the media at the President’s residence in Yerushalayim on Monday, after holding consultations with political leaders to decide who to task with trying to form a new government. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

President Reuven Rivlin invited Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Blue and White party chairman Benny Gantz to a trilateral meeting at the President’s residence Monday night, a spokesperson for the president said.

Rivlin met Sunday and Monday with the factions in the 22nd Knesset, and neither Netanyahu – with 55 MKs – nor Gantz – 54 MKs – received majority support to serve as prime minister. The president hopes that a meeting with the two leaders of the largest parties can enable the formation of a unity government.

Incumbent Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu received the backing of his own Likud party (31), Shas (9), United Torah Judaism (8) and Yemina (7). Gantz won the backing of his own Blue and White party (33), 10 of the Joint List’s 13 MKs, Labor-Gesher (6) and the Democratic Union (5).

Neither Gantz nor Netanyahu was able to reach the 61 MKs necessary after Avigdor Liberman announced that the eight MKs of his party will not nominate either of the two candidates.

Since the election results have been known, Rivlin has urged the Likud and Blue and White parties to join together to form a national unity government.

Netanyahu has repeatedly called for a unity government, while Gantz has been holding out for a government without Netanyahu.

Meanwhile, Gantz will be meeting with Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman in Tel Aviv, ahead of the meeting with Rivlin and Netanayhu.

Gantz reportedly promised Liberman last week he would not join a coalition without his Yisrael Beytenu party.