In its efforts to form a government without having to rely on the votes of United Arab List MKs, Blue and White has been meeting with MKs from the Likud and other members of the rightwing/chareidi bloc – offering them deals to jump ship and join Blue and White, or at least support a government formed by Benny Gantz. And a report on Channel 20 said that in the case of at least two Likud MKs, the party is on the verge of succeeding.
The two are Likud MKs from the “bottom of the list,” who would not have gotten into the Knesset had the Likud not gotten 32 seats in the September election. The report did not identify the two, but said that one of them was “99% persuaded” to vote with Blue and White. The report said that the danger of losing MKs was the reason Binyamin Netanyahu had announced Sunday night that in the event of third elections, there would not be a primary contest; the list that ran in the September election would run in the next one as well, with all current MKs guaranteed a seat on the list.
The Likud said in response that the report was “Blue and White spin. This report is nonsense, and is just another attempt to break up the rightwing bloc of 55 MKs. They will not succeed in instigating an internal fight in the Likud. It’s no secret that a number of Likud MKs have gotten offers from Blue and White in exchange for dropping their party and supporting a minority government that relies on support from Arab MKs.”
Speaking to Yisrael Hayom, MK David Bitan said he knew of at least one Likud MK who had received a “serious offer” from Blue and White, while the party has also sought out Shas MKs, “making them far-reaching promises to leave Netanyahu behind. Among other things, they were offered four ministries, an MK to function as a vice prime minister” who would effectively act as prime minister when Gantz was abroad, “two deputy ministries, and a series of concessions on religious issues,” he added.
Under current election law, any MK who jumps to another party is ineligible to run for another Knesset seat, unless one-third of their Knesset faction does so. It was that law that prevented Netanyahu from convincing even one opposition member to join his coalition of 60 MKs after the April elections. Kan News reported that in order to enable Gantz to convince MKs to jump ship, Yisrael Beytenu MK Oded Forer would this week try to pass legislation in the Knesset to annul that law. Even with that, “the chances of breaking up the bloc are nil,” the report said. “In addition, if the law is changed, Netanyahu will be able to use it to break up Blue and White,” which is much riper for a breakup than the Likud, it said.