Likud Requests Yisrael Beytenu Sign for Another Chance for Netanyahu

YERUSHALAYIM -
The Knesset plenum.

As the December 11 deadline gets even closer, the Likud party is working to gather 61 signatures from MKs, to be able submit the request to President Reuven Rivlin, to give the mandate back to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, with a two-week extension.

Likud faction whip Miki Zohar sent an official request to Yisrael Beytenu faction chairman MK Oded Forer. Yisrael Beytenu said that they would discuss this at their next faction meeting.

MKs from the rightwing and religious parties bloc on Motzoei Shabbos were asked to sign on the request to tap Netanyahu with forming the next government.

Any MK can sign on as many recommendations as he wants, and the one who can bring 61 signatures to the president earlier receives the chance, thus the eight votes of Yisrael Beytenu will be crucial for either side.

Blue and White has also begun to gather signatures for Gantz. He is expected to receive at least 57 signatures, from Blue and White (33), Labor (6), the Democratic Union (5), and the Joint Arab List (13). If Yisrael Beytenu signs for Gantz as well he will also have received more than 61 signatures.

On Sunday, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein will host a fateful meeting between the negotiating teams of the Likud and Blue and White parties.

“We are going to come open-minded and hoping to make progress,” a source close to Blue and White leader Benny Gantz said.

In an effort to seemingly ensure the meeting’s success, Blue and White decided not to join the demonstrations against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held in Tel Aviv on Motzoei Shabbos.

The sides are expected to discuss a proposal for Netanyahu to remain prime minister for several months, followed by Gantz for two years and then whoever will be the Likud leader finishing up the term.

New Right co-chair Ayelet Shaked expressed confidence on Friday that a unity government could still be formed by the Dec. 11 deadline. In a social media post, Shaked said there could also still be a rightwing government in which Yisrael Beytenu, United Torah Judaism and Shas coexist.

“I hope that either Blue and White or Yisrael Beyenu display responsibility and enable the formation of a government,” Shaked wrote.

Yet, despite all the willingness, Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman has seemingly toughened his stance.

On Friday, Liberman revealed an unrealistic new list of demands on religion and state, including drafting yeshivah students and civil marriage as well as opening supermarkets and having public transportation on Shabbos.

On Dec. 11, if no one has succeeded in forming a coalition, Israel will be forced to hold new elections – its third in under a year.