Leader of Blue and White party Benny Gantz speaks on February 28, 2019.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/ MAARIV)
Sources in United Torah Judaism (UTJ) have not ruled out joining a coalition led by the Blue and White Party if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cannot form a government, so long as the premiership rotation agreed upon by Blue and White co-chairmen Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid is cancelled.
"From the start, we have no problem with Gantz; our problem is with Lapid," a senior source in Degel Hatorah told The Jerusalem Post's Israeli sister paper, Ma’ariv. Degel HaTorah is one of two Ashkenazi haredi political parties that make up UTJ. "If Gantz announces the cancellation of the rotation agreement with Lapid, there is a possibility of entering the government he heads – if, of course, we get the items that are important to us."
According to the agreement made between Gantz and Lapid, if Blue and White wins the election, Gantz will serve as prime minister for two-and-a-half year and then transfer the reins to Lapid, who would serve for two more years.
It should be noted that members of the Degel Hatorah faction are considered more moderate than Knesset members from Agudath Israel, headed by Deputy Minister Yaakov Litzman.
MK Uri Maklev of UTJ said about the possibility of entering the government headed by Gantz: "We are not discussing this now… Right now, we are busy strengthening the right-wing bloc.”
The connection with the ultra-Orthodox is a realistic possibility for Blue and White because, according to the polls, the center-left bloc which it heads does not have enough seats to form a government.
On Monday, Gantz declared that there would be no connection between his party and the Arab party led by Ahmad Tibi. Therefore, a coalition with the haredim becomes one of the only options, apart from a unity government with the Likud.
Upon reading the report in Maariv, MK Bezalel Smotrich called the news "disturbing."
"I expect the ultra-Orthodox parties to shun Blue and White and declare that they will not sit in a Gantz government," he said. "Those who strive to preserve the Land of Israel, the settlements and the Jewish identity of the State of Israel, will not in any way shape of form sit in a Gantz government."
A spokesperson for Blue and White said in response: "The election will be won and the rotation agreement will go into effect. We will invite all Zionist parties to join a broad and national government."
Translated by Maayan Hoffman.
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