Blue and White’s co-candidate for prime minister in last month’s election, MK Yair Lapid, announced on Thursday that he would no longer be a candidate for prime minister in the next government.
The announcement followed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s accusation that Lapid was the obstacle to the formation of a national unity government.
Netanyahu said Lapid was trying to stop Gantz from joining a coalition government that he is currently trying to form, because he would not give up his goal of rotating in the Prime Minister’s Office with Gantz.
“For the sake of a unity government, I’m forgoing the rotation,” Lapid told the Blue and White Party. “There won’t be a rotation with three people. That’s not serious. Running a country is a serious matter. It’s far more important to me that there’s unity in the country, that there won’t be another election, that this country begins a healing process, mends the wounds, changes the national priorities.”
Lapid warned that Netanyahu is trying everything to drag Israel to its third election within a year.
“One man with three indictments stands between us and a national unity government,” he said. “That’s what the country needs. This country needs a national unity government led by Blue and White, with Likud, with Liberman, with Labor. That’s what we said throughout the campaign. In that government there will be a rotation. Gantz will be prime minister for the first two years. There’s no other option.”
Lapid ruled out a coalition in which Gantz rotates as prime minister with Netanyahu, but did not rule out a rotation with another Likud leader.
“We’re the largest party, and Netanyahu is in the midst of his legal hearings,” he said. “We won’t sit in a government with a prime minister who has been indicted or is facing such serious charges. If in two years Netanyahu will complete the legal process and be cleared of all charges, then there’s no problem. He can come back. I hope for him that’s what happens.”
In his address to the party, Gantz wished Netanyahu well in his cases, and said he does not want to see him convicted and jailed. But he said that Netanyahu “should not fortify himself in his post” and refuse to leave.
Gantz met with Amir Peretz and Orly Levy-Abecassis, the leaders of Labor-Gesher, on Thursday, and Peretz called on Gantz to immediately start forming a government.