Report: Right-Wing Blue and White MKs May Not Go Along With Arab-Backed Gov’t Plan

YERUSHALAYIM -
Blue and White member Yoaz Hendel speaks during a vote on a bill to dissolve the parliament, at the Knesset, May 27, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

In order to establish his minority government, Benny Gantz plans to garner the votes on nine United Arab List MKs, along with those of Yisrael Beytenu and of course his Blue and White Party, to vote for him as prime minister. Gantz is counting on 59 Knesset votes to put him over the top, beating the Binyamin Netanyahu-led right-wing coalition by one vote.

But Gantz has several hurdles he must overcome – including in his own party. A report on Reshet Bet Sunday said that right-wing Telem MKs Zvika Hauser and Yoaz Hendel oppose relying on the Arab MK’s votes to form the government – and without them, Gantz cannot garner a majority of Knesset votes. Reports last week said that Telem head Moshe Yaalon had agreed to the idea, but he has not spoken of it publicly yet.

Hauser and Hendel were the main reason Gantz did not try to establish a government in this manner after the September elections, even though he was in a better position to do so then, as the right-wing bloc had only 55 MKs. The report said that Gantz and Yair Lapid are putting heavy pressure on the two to agree to the plan.

The support of the United Arab List is not necessarily sewn up either, and media reports say that the List is likely to extract a heavy price for its support. Speaking Sunday, List MK A’ida Toma-Saliman said in a social media post that “Gantz has yet to realize that we have not made a decision to recommend him for prime minister. If he wants that to happen he will have to ask us formally and publicly.”

In a statement Saturday night, List chairman MK Matanas Shahada said that “the Arab public has said its piece – it wants a change and an end to racism and discrimination. Netanyahu would love to cancel our 581,540 votes but he cannot, and Gantz wants to ignore them but cannot.” List MKs would meet Sunday to discuss their position on recommending Gantz as prime minister or supporting him in a prime ministerial bid.

Speaking Saturday night, Netanyahu said that the plan was an attempt to defraud the public. “Not 24 hours before the election, Gantz proclaimed that neither he nor the two Chiefs of Staff with him would make a deal with the List, in any form,” Netanyahu said. “This is a party that has in its platform the denial of Israel as a Jewish state, a demand that the government fund the return of Arabs to Israeli cities, and trying IDF soldiers as war criminals.