Gantz Gives Up, Third Elections Loom

israel government, gantz government, israel elections
Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz (Reuters/Amir Cohen/File)


Just hours before his mandate to form a government was set to expire, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz told President Reuven Rivlin that he has failed in the task.

Gantz conceded defeat in a phone call with the president, ahead of a speech later in the evening.

“Gantz told the president that he is also committed in the remaining 21 days to continue to make every effort to form a good government for Israeli citizens,” his party said in a statement.

Although technically Rivlin can turn to another Knesset member to try where Gantz and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu before him have been unable to produce a majority to govern the country, it appears at this stage that Israel will have to go to another round of elections rather than face another 21 days of impasse and frustration.

As late as Wednesday evening, both Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu‏‏ and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz said they still held out hope for a unity government, despite their failure of their late-night parley on Tuesday, which was followed by mutual recriminations.

Blame also featured in Gantz’s remarks in a broadcast address after his message to Rivlin.

Benny Gantz insisted that he left no stone unturned in his efforts to form a government based on “respect, morals, values.”

He asserted that Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc of 55 MKs “is only working for the sake of one person,” referring to the PM.

The former IDF chief accused Netanyahu and his team of refusing to make an honest effort to reach an agreement.

“I asked the prime minister, who lost the election, to conduct direct negotiations, but I was met with insults, slander and childish videos,” he complained.

“The people chose me and my partners in Blue and White to lead Israel, and nobody has the right to thwart the people’s choice,” he adds, noting that his party had 33 Knesset seats to Likud’s 32, though neither had enough support for a majority of the Knesset’s 120 members.

However, Minister Zeev Elkin, one of the party’s negotiators, said that Blue and White was inflexible on the crucial issue of Netanyahu’s role in a unity government.

“In Blue & White, they said they were not prepared for Netanyahu to be prime minister after Gantz. In their opinion, Netanyahu can be neither first nor second,” Elkin said in an interview with Kan.

President Rivlin reiterated on Wednesday that Netanyahu should figure in a compromise to enable a unity government, combining a rotation of the premiership with a commitment that the PM would step down if indicted.

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