With less than three weeks to go before the election, which will seek, for the third time in a year, to form a government of at least 61 MKs, parties appeared to be as divided as ever. If Blue and White wants to form a government, its only option will be to recruit the United Arab List, the Likud said Thursday – despite the claims by Blue and White head Benny Gantz that his party will not only not include the Arab party in a government he heads, it will not even rely on the UAL’s votes from outside the coalition to form a minority government.
Impossible, the Likud said Thursday. In a message to supporters, the party said that “Gantz is misleading everyone. There is no Gantz government without the United Arab List. A vote for Gantz is a vote for Tibi and Odeh.”
If Gantz was expecting to recruit one of the parties that until now have backed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, he is sorely mistaken, Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman told Army Radio Thursday. “There is no chance the rightwing bloc will fall apart, period.” he said. “We in UTJ are part of the bloc with Netanyahu. That is the entire story.” Attempts have been made to convince parties – as well as Likud MKs – to jump ship, but those attempts have been and will continue to be in vain.
Yemina also reiterated Thursday that it was part of the Netanyahu bloc, and would remain there. On Wednesday, Yemina’s Ayelet Shaked said that “without question we will not join a Gantz-led government,” reiterating previous comments by party head Naftali Bennett.
The only party that is willing to jump ideological boundaries appears to be Yisrael Beytenu. Avigdor Liberman, head of the ostensibly rightwing party, told Army Radio that it was willing to sit in a government that included far-left parties Labor and Meretz. “I was part of a government that included Amir Peretz, and we got along just fine. Now, with the addition of Orly Levy-Abukasis [formerly of Yisrael Beytenu], the party has expanded.”
Liberman has also expressly said that he would not be part of a government supported by the Arab list, and when asked how Gantz could form a government, given the solidity of the rightwing bloc, Liberman laid out several scenarios. “Clearly there is not going to be a unity government,” he said. “But half of the Likud is dreaming of the day when they will be able to choose a new chairperson. They are waiting for their nightmare of Netanyahu’s leadership to end. The moment they are able to, Yemina will join a Gantz-led government. That’s why Netanyahu is now supporting Itamar Ben-Gvir.”
In response to Liberman’s comments, Rabbi Litzman said that “Liberman is easily swayed, one day he says one thing and the next day something else. At night he looks at the polls and the next day he decides who to attack on the basis of what he read.”