The Likud and Blue and White have completed coalition negotiations and reached an agreement on a national unity government in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz would each serve for a year and a half, Netanyahu revealed on Saturday night in a Channel 12 interview.
According to the deal, Likud would start out with the posts of prime minister, finance minister and Knesset speaker and Blue and White would start with a deputy prime minister, defense minister and foreign minister and then switch after a year and a half. The Justice portfolio would be filled in agreement by an outsider or a minister and deputy from each party.
” I will leave office on the agreed date,” Netanyahu said in a message to Gantz. “There will be no shticks and tricks. Millions of Israelis are waiting for us.”
Netanyahu said the deal was waiting to be signed, but a move to replace Yuli Edelstein as Knesset would prevent the agreement. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on Sunday that Edelstein must enable the formation of committees and a vote for who should be Knesset speaker when the Knesset reconvenes on Monday.
The fact that the deal has not been signed yet Netanyahu blamed on Gantz’s number two in Blue an White, MK Yair Lapid. If Lapid continues to refuse to the enter the government, Blue and White would be left with only the MKs from his Hosen Le’Israel party and part of MK Moshe Ya’alon’s Telem an none of the MKs from Lapid’s Yesh Atid.
There are attempts to organize a meeting between Netanyahu and Gantz. But Gantz’s initial response to Netanyahu’s offer was negative.
“Those who want unity do not work with ultimatums and harmful leaks and certainly do not try to hurt our democracy and citizens by paralyzing the Knesset,” Gantz said.
Lapid accused Netanyahu of lying and said there was no such agreement.
The four members of Blue and White’s leadership cockpit met on Friday and said they would still seek a national unity government led by Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, but just in case that is not possible, they also considered other alternatives and options.
Sources in the party said after the meeting that the party would not be splitting and reports to the contrary must have come from the Likud.
“They are united, but they considered all options for forming a government and that means all of them,” a source in the party said.
In a Facebook message he posted on Friday afternoon, Gantz said: “Since I received the mandate [to form a government] I am working, exactly as I promised, to form a wide, stable and statesmanlike government that will know how to deal with the great challens before us.”
The members of the cockpit agreed to continue fighting for the formation of Knesset committees so the legislative branch could begin helping Israelis contend with the economic impact of the coronavirus.
“There will not be a government if there will not be a functional Knesset, as is needed in a democracy,” Gantz wrote on Facebook. “In a democracratic regime, the legislature cannot be paralyzed and prevented from expressing the will and the votes of the citizens. Anyone who thinks he can advance us to a dangerous borderline dictatorship is mistaken.”
“Yisrael Beyenu leader Avigdor Liberman warned over the weekend against letting Netanyahu “become Mao Zedong.”