Likud, Blue & White coalition talks fail to make progress

Next meeting between the negotiation parties had been scheduled for Friday in hopes of denying the possibility of a third round of elections.

By ALON EINHORN
September 26, 2019 10:14
3 minute read.
Likud, Blue & White coalition talks fail to make progress

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shaking hands with Blue and White leader Benny Gantz at a memorial service honoring Shimon Peres. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

The coalition talks between Likud and Blue and White to form a unity government have been unsuccessful so far, as President Reuven Rivlin announced Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will receive the mandate to attempt and form a government.

Among the various meetings between Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, it was decided upon to send representatives of both parties to hold negotiations.

MK Yariv Levin (Likud) and MK Meir Cohen (Blue and White) have laid out their demands with each side blaming the other for the unsuccessful meetings.

"We are willing to accept the president's terms and hold rotations for the position of prime minister, but we will not abandon our political partners," Levin claimed on Thursday. "The only alternative Blue and White have is to form a government with the Joint List who support terror."

Cohen on his part claimed that he approached the negotiations with Blue and White's two main principals: "We will not sit with a prime minister who is facing legal charges, let him step down and hold his legal battles. We will not give up on a broad, secular national unity government."

It was reported by Israeli media on Wednesday that Blue and White second Yair Lapid is the one preventing his party from accepting a rotation with Netanyahu, to which Cohen claimed that "that is clear disrespect of Gantz. He is a good leader and decides everything with the leading four in the party. Do not underrate this man and think someone is pulling his strings."

Likud members as well as Netanyahu claimed time and time again that they are not going to abandon their political partners on the Right, laying on the table a demand to include the total of their 55 Knesset seats in the coalition.

Blue and White MK Ofer Shelah related to this demand on Wednesday, claiming that "You cannot state that you sit to negotiate with a bloc of 55 and not willing to debate on that, that is no way to negotiate."

Jerusalem Affairs Minister and Environmental Protection Minister Ze’ev Elkin in turn attacked Blue and White on Thursday claiming that Blue and White's demands are preposterous "Imagine if we would demand to kick out Gantz and Lapid and then place Gabi Ashkenazi as head of their party, that is exactly what they demand of us to do with Netanyahu!"

The third wheel in the political quarrel, Yisrael Beytenu Avigdor Liberman also decided to voice his opinion as he responded to Elkin on Thursday, claiming that "Likud are coming with a pre-package of the haredi parties and Yamina. A unity government means a merge of two big parties and not of one big party with the other in addition to its partners."

Meanwhile, Head of the Joint List Ayman Odeh said in a video posted on Facebook on Wednesday night that Blue and White asked Balad to remove their recommendation of Benny Gantz so that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be the first to attempt forming a coalition.

"We are interested in the mandate being given first to Netanyahu and only afterwards to us," Odeh stated."[Blue and White] believe Netanyahu won't succeed in forming a government, after which the other parties won't want a third election. That will cause public pressure and then Gantz will be able to form a coalition."

Thus far, an additional meeting between Likud and Blue and White representatives had been scheduled for Friday morning, in the hopes of slowly ending the strife to deny the possibility of a third round of elections.


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