Levy-Abukasis: No Recommendation for Gantz or Netanyahu as PM

Likud Party campaign banners, one depicting Likud leader Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the other depicting Blue and White Party head Benny Gantz, and Ahmad Tibi, co-leader of the Joint List. (Reuters/Ammar Awad)

The odds of a unity government grew considerably Friday, after Gesher head Orly Levy-Abukasis said in an interview that her faction would not recommend that President Reuven Rivlin appoint Benny Gantz to form a government. “In any event I will not recommend Gantz for the job in order to prevent giving him the opportunity to form a minority government supported by Balad,” she told Yediot Acharonot. “But that does not mean I am going to recommend Netanyahu to form a government. That will not happen,” she said.

That means that neither Gantz nor Netanyahu will be able to garner a 61-MK majority to form a government, or to even persuade Rivlin to appoint either one to form a government, based on the chances they will be able to do so. Neither Yisrael Beytenu nor the United Arab List have committed to recommend Gantz either, so it is possible that Netanyahu will have a majority of MKs recommending him as prime minister.

Levy-Abukasis earlier this week said she would not support Gantz’s efforts to form a government with the help of the United Arab List, eliciting angry responses from left-wing MKs. Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg called Levy-Abukasis a “thief” for “stealing,” getting into the Knesset “on the votes of the left.” But it was Meretz and the left that should “be a little modest in its claims,” she said. “We saved them and enabled them to pass the electoral threshold. Without us they would not be in the Knesset at all.” The united Labor-Meretz-Gesher faction got just 7 seats, and Levy-Abukasis said that “many Meretz voters proudly said they voted for the United Arab List.”

What Israel needed now, she said, was a unity government. “This is a time for national unity. The danger of the coronavirus plague threatens our lives and the proper conduct of our country. It does not discriminate between people, classes, and even borders. The battle to defend the lives of our people require gathering all our abilities, talents, and brains. No one can stand to the side at a time of emergency like this.”

In response to a call by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Thursday night for a national unity government in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, Benny Gantz spoke with Netanyahu, with the prime minister inviting him to discuss the matter in person. Netanyahu told Gantz that he wanted to establish a government that included as many parties as possible, but that “supporters of terror cannot be part of the government.” In a statement, the Prime Minister’s Office said that it was “waiting for a positive response from Gantz.”