Lapid: Peretz’s Claims on Arab-Backed Coalition ‘Nonsense’

Yair Lapid, leader of Yesh Atid party. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

In an interview Sunday, Yair Lapid again dismissed the possibility that Blue and White would form a government with the assistance of the United Arab List, denying the claim made Friday by Labor-Meretz-Gesher head Amir Peretz that such a deal had already been made. “I say it again: We will not form a government with the UAL and we will not cooperate with them,” Lapid told Army Radio. “We have for the past two days been trying to track down how and where Peretz came up with this nonsense. Possibly he said it to avoid losing votes.”

In a speech Friday, Peretz said that the deal was done. “We have an agreement with Blue and White to form a government. We will swear in that government with the support of Yisrael Beytenu and the United Arab List from outside the coalition. I will be the person who brings everyone together, taking on the role of ‘responsible adult,’ and work to expand the government after it is established. The government will be committed to the peace process, to a budget that will prioritize social needs, and will commit to appointing an Arab minister.” That minster will be Ben Gurion University Professor of Social Work Alian Alkaravani, a member of the Bedouin community, who “will help relax the tensions between Arabs and Jews and help us build a better life together.”

In a social media post, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Peretz’s remarks were a “bombshell. Amir Peretz admitted directly that that he had a deal to form a minority government relying on the votes of Yisrael Beytenu and the United Arab List. A vote for Benny Gantz or Avigdor Liberman is a vote for a dangerous government.”

Lapid’s comments actually contradicted comments made by Gantz the night before. Speaking to Kan News, Gantz said that a scenario in which he would form a minority government with the support of Arab MKs “is a possible one, but it is theoretical, very theoretical, because we said we would not cooperate with the UAL.” Referring to Peretz’s comments, Gantz said that “we have no deals with anyone right now, but we would certainly like to be in a coalition with Labor.”

Speaking Sunday, Peretz told Reshet Bet that he stood behind his comments, adding that he had “received many offers from the Likud, better than any offers ever made in the past” to persuade him to join a Netanyahu-led coalition. “I rejected all of them, we will not be a part of a coalition that has Netanyahu in it. We will only support a Gantz-led government.”