Blue and White Hails Progress in Coalition Talks

YERUSHALAYIM -
The leaders of Blue and White at the start of the meeting. (Elad Malka)

The Blue and White and Yisrael Beytenu parties said they were finally getting somewhere in negotiations toward a coalition, though details were not disclosed and more meetings were planned.

In a joint statement on Sunday, they declared that “real progress has been made in drafting the basic policy principles, in particular on matters of religion and state.”

Both parties have insisted that chareidi parties be excluded from the next government, thereby making way for a dismantling of the traditional status quo.

The parties said their representatives would meet again on Monday and Tuesday.

Whatever progress may have been made in the talks, it was still far short of what President Reuven Rivlin urged earlier on Sunday—a coalition of Likud and Blue and White.

With the deadline for Benny Gantz’s mandate due to expire on Wednesday, Rivlin tried to ramp up pressure on the principals to overcome personal and political differences for the sake of the country.

“Enough! We do not need another round of elections. Do the right thing and come back. I call on both Likud and Blue and White to get a grip and understand that the people do not want more elections. They have had enough of elections,” Rivlin said.

He accused both Gantz and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu‏‏ of allowing selfish interests to impede the formation of a new government:

“I believe it is possible to form a government. The gaps are more personal than they are ideological, conceptual, political or to do with the needs of the state. Israel’s leaders must understand that the people of Israel come first.”

As Gantz met with Liberman and media speculated about an Arab-supported government being negotiated, PM Netanyahu reached for more inflammatory rhetoric in his opposition to such a scenario, denouncing it as “insane.”

Netanyahu was set to address an “emergency” rally against a minority government on Sunday evening in Tel Aviv.

In the meantime, maneuvering continued unabated, as the Gantz-Liberman meeting was followed by a Netanyahu-Liberman meeting on Sunday night.

In a joint statement, they described their meeting as a “good and matter-of-fact conversation”, adding that “the two agreed to meet again.”

Last Thursday, Netanyahu called on Liberman in a video statement to “tell the truth” about whether he is actually thinking of entering a coalition with Arab MKs whom he has accused in the past of treason and supporting terrorism.

Their joint statement on Sunday made no mention of any truth-telling on that subject.