Netanyahu worsens unity offer to Gantz.
By GIL HOFFMAN, JPOST MARCH 10, 2020 22:36
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman [C] with Blue and White top ranking officials [from Left to Right] Moshe Ya’alon, party leader Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid, Gabi Ashkenazi – (photo credit: ELAD MALKA)
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz’s chances of building a coalition took a blow on Tuesday, when Gesher leader Orly Levy-Abecassis left the Labor-Gesher-Meretz alliance and announced she would not back a minority government dependent on the Joint List of Arab parties.
Levy-Abecassis said publicly during the campaign that she had no problem supporting a minority government backed by the Joint List, but revealed on Facebook Tuesday that she had said the opposite privately ahead of the race.
She also endorsed Gantz and criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu throughout the campaign. But she issued fierce criticism of Gantz on Tuesday.
“We are all witnessing leaders who promised to act with credibility and responsibility dealing these days with shameful courting [of the Joint List],” Levy-Abecassis wrote. “They are willing to pay any price in order to form a minority government even if it will rely on undependable people.”
Blue and White, Labor and Meretz officials expressed outrage at Levy-Abecassis’s zigzag. Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg called her a racist and said she had to quit the Knesset. But she received praise from Likud.
“The delusional idea of a minority government dependent on MK Ahmad Tibi and his friends has apparently died,” Likud minister Ze’ev Elkin tweeted.
Without Levy-Abecassis and rebel Blue and White MKs Zvi Hauser and Yoaz Hendel, Gantz does not have enough support to form a minority government.
Channel 12 reported that chances of a unity government also decreased on Tuesday, because the Likud decided to stiffen its offer to Gantz. If after the September election, Netanyahu was willing to let Gantz take over as prime minister after six months, now he will demand to stay in power for at least another year, possibly two.
The head of the Likud negotiating team, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, mocked Yisrael Beytenu on Tuesday for issuing a series of demands for joining a Likud-led government. Levin said the demands should be sent to the Joint List instead.
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman met on Tuesday evening with the entire Blue and White cockpit of Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid, Moshe Ya’alon and Gabi Ashkenazi. They reported progress toward forming a government and avoiding a fourth election. Liberman will report back from the meeting to his Yisrael Beytenu faction on Wednesday.
To form a minority government, the Joint List will only need to vote in favor of the coalition one time and then cooperation with the list of Arab parties will end, Blue and White’s No. 2 MK Yair Lapid wrote on social media Tuesday.
Lapid responded to threats from Hauser and Hendel, who said Tuesday they would remain in the Knesset and oppose the government, even if they were thrown out of Blue and White.
He said that he, too, preferred a national unity government but it cannot happen because of Netanyahu.
“The best option is the one that Netanyahu ruled out straight away: a national unity government,” Lapid wrote. “That’s what we always wanted, that’s what we’d be glad to form today. Unity with rotation. Benny Gantz would be first because Netanyahu is on trial. A positive, broad, national unity government. The problem is that there’s no one to talk to. We checked a thousand times. Netanyahu rejected it flat out.”
Lapid wrote that the only thing Netanyahu is interested in is his three indictments. He said the prime minister does not want a unity government because he knows he won’t be able to pass legislation that would help him evade prosecution, so prefers a fourth election instead.
Barring a unity government, Lapid wrote that only two options remain: A fourth election or forming a narrow government with Yisrael Beytenu and Labor-Gesher-Meretz, while leaving the door open to an eventual unity government.
“Unlike all the lies Netanyahu is spreading, the Joint List won’t be part of that government,” Lapid wrote. “They’ll vote once from the outside and that’s it. Netanyahu has cooperated with them a thousand times. I’ll admit, it’s not the government we wanted. On the other hand, it’s much better than the current paralysis. A government like this will be able to pass a budget, ministries will be able to start working, Knesset committees would be re-opened, we’ll assist small businesses and we’ll prevent massive layoffs.”
Lapid said that would be preferable to another election, which he said would bring more hate, more incitement, more violence and billions more shekels wasted.
“A whole country would plunge itself into the abyss because of one man,” Lapid lamented. “That’s the choice we’re facing. I’d be happy if there were other options but there aren’t. What should we do? What’s best for the country.”
On Tuesday, Netanyahu posted a new ad on Twitter warning that a government with the Joint List would be a disaster for Israel. The ad includes a clip of Joint List head Ahmad Tibi calling Israel “colonialist.”
“Gantz, your partners don’t recognize the State of Israel,” the ad says. “Gantz, you should be ashamed of yourself.”