Officials: Coalition Agreement Almost Ready for Signatures

YERUSHALAYIM -
netanyahu gantz
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz in November. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel is closer to a government than it has been in a long time, Channel 12 reported Monday. After weeks of intense negotiating, the Likud and Blue and White have agreed on the vast majority of issues, and have exchanged versions of the coalition agreement to be signed for consideration by MKs and party officials on both sides. “We are very close to signing a coalition agreement, and that could take place in the coming days, possibly before Pesach,” a source close to the discussions said.

A Blue and White official said that the agreement contains “basic understandings on all central issues. We did not surrender on the issue of independence of the courts,” and the justice minister chosen will be by agreement of both parties. On the Likud side, officials said that Blue and White had agreed to nearly all the conditions that the Likud had presented on annexation of areas of Yehudah and Shomron, with the only issue left the timetable for annexation; the Likud seeks to accomplish it more quickly than Blue and White.

The report comes less than a day after Benny Gantz, who was given the mandate to form a government, discussed the possibility of extending that mandate for two more weeks with President Reuven Rivlin, who said that he would consider the request.

Blue and White MK Chili Tropper said that one reason for the advancement was the Likud’s agreement not to interfere with the process by which judges are appointed, a hot-button issue on the right. “We are not prepared for any changes in the way judges are appointed or in their responsibilities,” he said. “Benny Gantz took upon himself a courageous decision to enter into an emergency unity government, but we will only do it if we can protect democracy. We want things to continue as they have been until now,” he added.