Gantz: Joint List won’t be part of my coalition, which will implement Trump plan

Ayelet Shaked rules out joining Blue and White government

Steinitz: ‘No situation’ in which right-wing bloc will break up and some will join Gantz

Touring Arab Israeli towns, Blue and White leader says no citizens will be forced into future Palestinian state in population swap

By TOI STAFF11 February 2020, 8:35 pm

Blue and White party leader MK Benny Gantz speaks during a party campaign event in Netanya on February 5, 2020. (Flash90)
Blue and White party leader MK Benny Gantz speaks during a party campaign event in Netanya on February 5, 2020. (Flash90)

Blue and White Party chief Benny Gantz on Tuesday ruled out including the predominantly Arab Joint List in any future coalition and declared that he would implement the Trump administration’s peace plan if elected in the upcoming national vote.

But Gantz, a former army chief of staff, came out against provisions of the White House deal that suggested Arab Israeli towns could become part of a future Palestinian state.

Touring Arab Israeli communities in the country’s north, Gantz rejected the prospect of partnering with the alliance of four majority-Arab parties in any future government.

“I am not afraid to speak to any legitimate political party, but the Joint List will not be part of the government I form,” he said. “My disagreements with its leadership on national and security issues are deep, difficult and unbridgeable.”

Israel “cannot tolerate support for terrorism or avoiding condemnation,” added Gantz, a possible reference to Joint List candidate Heba Yazbak’s praise of convicted terrorists.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded Tuesday, saying in a Twitter post that Gantz “was misleading the public. Without the support in the Knesset of [MKs] Ahmad Tibi, Ayman Odeh and the Joint List, Gantz won’t be able to form a government. Blue and White voters are switching to Likud because they know that only Likud under my leadership can form a strong and safe right-wing government.”

Gantz’s comments came after Joint List chair Ayman Odeh said on Tuesday that he will not back Gantz as prime minister after the March 2 elections unless he made a clear statement publicly ruling out elements of the US peace plan, namely a transfer of some Arab Israeli towns to a Palestinian state and the extension of Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and other areas of the West Bank.

Hours later, Gantz said he opposed the former but did not comment on the latter.

“I want to take this issue off the table and state that no Israeli, Jewish or Arab citizen will be coerced into another country,” Gantz said.

Gantz stressed that he “intend[s] to implement President Trump’s peace plan, in coordination with all the elements in the region, and see it as a significant milestone.”

Leader of the Joint list MK Ayman Odeh attends a press conference in front of the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, November 3, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Without support from the Joint List, Gantz is unlikely to have enough MKs behind him to get the nod after the coming March 2 elections. Gantz is hoping to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who polls have shown continues to lead a right-wing and religious bloc of MKs that is larger than the opposition bloc Gantz can muster without the Joint List.

While the Joint List in the wake of the previous elections in September recommended to President Reuven Rivlin that Gantz negotiate a coalition, Odeh said Tuesday that “there is no way that we will support him again or recommend him if he doesn’t come out against this [the Trump plan].”

Odeh also ruled out joining any government that includes hawkish MK Avigdor Liberman and his Yisrael Beytenu party.

“We have nothing in common with Liberman,” he said. “We are as far as possible from him. There is no way that we will support any government that includes Liberman.”

After US President Donald Trump unveiled his peace plan at the White House on January 28, Gantz said he would bring the proposal for approval by the Knesset if he is elected prime minister. Netanyahu also embraced the proposal, while the Palestinians rejected it entirely.

US President Donald Trump participates in an expanded bilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, January 27, 2020, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)

The plan allows for Israel to extend sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and its settlements in the West Bank — areas the Palestinians want for a future state. Another controversial proposal is redrawing Israel’s borders to see multiple Arab towns in the so-called Triangle area included in the future Palestine.

Netanyahu has stated that Gantz could form a minority government “that relies on those who reject Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and glorify terrorists that murder our soldiers and citizens,” a claim that Gantz has rejected.

February 12, 2020 | 18 Comments » | 643 views

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18 Comments / 18 Comments

  1. “Before the two election campaigns (April and September 2019), Gantz’s party viewed cooperation of Blue and White and the Arab Joint List as a historic opportunity for Jewish-Arab cooperation.” From article in AL Monitor, republished in Israpundit on February 5. “Gantz understood that he would not be able to cobble together a government without the support of the Joint List (from inside or outside). Therefore, a few hours before the demonstration, Gantz himself invited Odeh to speak. The sky didn’t fall and Gantz and Odeh agreed to political cooperation.”

  2. Polls are indicating basically indicating that a fourth election is very very possible unless some party or two break their campaign promises.

    That is assuming the same amount voters actually show up on election day in 18 days. Right now Israelis are tired of elections and the voter turnout could very well change what has happened in the last two elections.

  3. Two new polls show Blue-White has lost some ground, the right-wing block has gained some. If all parties keep to their current promises, no government can be found.

    However, Leiberman has changed his mind about serving with Meretz. He earlier said he would refuse to serve with Meretz because of its pro-PLO stance. But he now says he could serve with Meretz. Does this mean he will bewilling to walk back his promises not to serve with the Arabs and/or the haredim as well? Stay tuned.

    UTJ leader Litzmann says haredi parties will remain part of the rightwing bloc.

  4. Blocks should be reconfigured as they currently are relevant:
    There are three blocks now:

    Right Wing: Likud/Yamina + Religious UTJ/Shas

    Center/Left: Blue/White + Labor/Gesher/Meretz Union + Yisrael Betenyu

    Arab Joint List

    So turnout will be everything if one Block gets a significantly higher turnout than the competing block then it greatly increases the likelihood of an actual governing coalition forming. If not unless a party or two changes their election positions there will be a fourth election.

  5. @ Bear Klein:True. At this point it is impossible to know if any of the parties will change their positions. Politicians sometimes do, sometimes don’t.

  6. Gantz has given interviews over the past few days in which hw says that he will form a government with a “Jewish majority” after the election, according to the Jerusalem Post.. The Post think’s that Gantz’s choice of language “implies” that he will ask the Joint List to abstain on a vote of confidence, which will give him enough votes to form a minority government. Gantz reiterated his pledge that no one from the Joint List would actually be in his government.

  7. @ Adam Dalgliesh:

    Not likely at all as pointed out in the article:

    If Gantz would want to do this the Arabs will NOT cooperate with him.

    A government with “a Jewish majority,” as Gantz put it, would take the sting out of such accusations. However, most polls do not give Blue and White, Meretz-Labor-Gesher and Yisrael Beytenu more seats than Likud, Yamina, United Torah Judaism and Shas, so the likelihood of this outcome does not seem great at present.

    And chairman of the Joint List, MK Ayman Odeh, was strongly critical of Gantz’s position, tweeting following his interviews that “There is one thing that needs to leave politics quicker than Netanyahu, and that is the racist phrase “Jewish majority.”
    Odeh continued, “If there won’t be a majority of citizens, there won’t be a majority,” a veiled threat to vote against a minority government.

  8. Blue and White leader Benny Gantz gives television interview, February 15, 2020 (Screen grab/Channel 12 news)

    Sixteen days before the election, Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz on Saturday gave multiple interviews in which he repeated his vow that he would not invite the Joint List to join a coalition after the elections, asserting that he would not require the support of the predominately Arab political alliance.

    “I will not sit with the Joint List and I do not need their support,” Gantz told Channel 12 news. “I heard [Avigdor] Liberman this morning say that he will sit with Labor and Meretz and he will sit with us. We have no agreements with Liberman. We had great negotiations with him before the previous Knesset was dissolved. We have achieved unprecedented achievements in understanding about religion and the state.”

  9. Interview reported in Arutz Sheva today with Ayman Odea: “We want to prevent [Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu from continuing in his position. But that requires Blue and White telling us what their true platform us. But I don’t know what it is. If it is a platform of peace, democracy, and closeness between Jews and Arabs – we will support that seriously. If it is unilateral annexation and all sorts of ideas that lean to the right – then we won’t support it. We need to hear from them the day after the elections.” ”

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