Report: Gantz Working to Establish Arab-Supported Minority Gov’t

YERUSHALAYIM -
Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White party, delivers a statement at a faction meeting in Tel Aviv. (Reuters/Corinna Kern)

Reports Motzoei Shabbos said that Blue and White was pursuing the formation of a minority government, with the backing of the United Arab List, confirming rumors that have circulated in recent days. Yisrael Hayom quoted senior sources in the party as saying that the government would be a temporary one, until a unity deal could be reached with the Likud.

The reports comes four days before the deadline for Blue and White head Benny Gantz to form a government. Gantz was set to meet with President Reuven Rivlin Motzoei Shabbos, but he does not plan on telling Rivlin that he was unable to form a government, the sources said. “We want to close a deal with the Likud and we believe it will be possible,” the report quoted the sources as saying. “But we are at the end of our rope, and we need to present a transfer government at this point. This is not what we were aiming for, but we have no choice. This will force the other parties [in the rightwing bloc] to negotiate with us. Meanwhile, we will have a government with Benny Gantz as prime minister.”

The reports said that Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman had agreed to support such a government. Gantz met with Liberman Friday, and said that he had “discussed possibilities” with the Yisrael Beytenu head, and that “there are possibilities” for the formation of a government. Liberman on Motzoei Shabbos did not confirm this, but said “we are arriving at the point where time is running out, with the lies and the spins. Netanyahu has ignored all possibilities of conducting negotiations with Gantz. We met with him, but it appears that there is some dissent in his party.” Yediot Acharonot reported Motzoei Shabbos that Gantz would form a government with support of the UAL only with the support of Liberman.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, called on Likud MKs and supporters to “pull out all the stops to prevent the establishment” of a government supported by Arab MKs. In a rare series of phone calls to Likud MKs and ministers over the weekend, Netanyahu said that he had received information that Gantz planned to form a minority government. “We are facing a national emergency that we have never before faced in Israel,” he said. “We know for certain that a decision has been made. Elections would be tragic, but relying on Arabs to form a government is an even greater tragedy. This is a terrible blow to Israeli security. They denied it when we said this would happen during the election campaign. We have to work to prevent this.”

Netanyahu called for an emergency meeting Sunday to rally against the plan. “We need to organize the public. We have a chance to prevent this. If it does happen we will bring this government down immediately from the opposition. We cannot let this happen.” Regarding Blue and White’s claims of attempting to establish a unity government with the Likud, Netanyahu said that “for ten days they have not held negotiations with us.”

In response, Gantz said in a social media post that “the real ‘national emergency’ is when hundreds of rockets fall on Israelis. Netanyahu, you realize that I will do everything possible to prevent you from dragging Israel into a third election.” He also called on parties in the rightwing bloc to eschew Netanyahu. “I have been working hard to establish a liberal and wide unity government, but I am not giving up on the idea of other types of governments. For the stability of the country I call on the rightwing bloc parties to release Netanyahu from his commitment to them. We will establish a unity government and any party that agrees to the conditions of the Likud and Blue and White will be invited to join.”

In response, the Likud said that Gantz “is trying to justify the unthinkable – that he and Avigdor Liberman will harm the security of Israel by establishing a minority government dependent on Ahmed Tibi, Ayman Odeh and the United Arab List, supporters of terror who call IDF soldiers war criminals. How will they look into the eyes of the mothers of soldiers? This is unbelievable.”

The New Right said in a statement Motzoei Shabbos that it was sticking with the Likud. “We will not break up the bloc, and any attempt to get us to do so will fail. We are loyal to the rightwing bloc. We call on Blue and White to join a unity government led by Netanyahu.”