Gantz not buying Netanyahu announcement that he rules out unity government

Netanyahu: "My commitment is clear: To establish a strong right-wing government after the election that will continue to lead the State of Israel."

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August 7, 2019 11:04
2 minute read.
Gantz not buying Netanyahu announcement that he rules out unity government

Tension was evident between Blue and White leader Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the opening of the Knesset’s new session on April 30. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Sources close to Blue and White leader Benny Gantz reacted with disbelief to an article Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu published on the cover of the pro-Netanyahu newspaper Israel Hayom on Wednesday ruling out the formation of a national-unity government with Gantz's party.

Gantz's associates said the real reason a unity government would not be formed with a Netanyahu-led Likud is that Blue and White would not join a coalition with Netanyahu due to the pending corruption charges against him. They said they expected the Likud to elect a new leader after Netanyahu loses the September 17 election who will take the party into a government led by Gantz.

They said no one should believe what Netanyahu wrote, because he made the same commitment after the April election and then invited both Blue and White and Labor to enter the coalition.

"If he offered [then-Labor leader] Avi Gabbay to join a government, he would offer anyone," a source close to Gantz told The Jerusalem Post. "He would do anything to get the Knesset to give him immunity from prosecution."

Netanyahu wrote in the article that he was rejecting Blue and White.

"My commitment is clear: To establish a strong right-wing government after the election that will continue to lead the State of Israel to unprecedented heights and to guarantee the security of Israeli citizens," Netanyahu wrote. "This is my obligation to Likud voters. There will be no unity government."

Netanyahu warned that Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman would facilitate the formation of a government led by Gantz and his fellow Blue and White candidate for prime minister Yair Lapid if Likud does not win the most seats.

"The Likud needs to be the largest party to ensure we are tasked with forming the government, without giving Lieberman the opportunity to steer us toward a weak left-wing government under Lapid and Gantz," he wrote. "We cannot repeat the mistake of the last election, when right-wing voters squandered seven mandates on parties that failed to pass the electoral threshold. We must not jeopardize the right-wing government; therefore we must vote Likud. Anyone who doesn't vote Likud – is essentially voting for the fall of the right-wing government and rise of a left-wing government headed by Lapid and Gantz."

Lapid wrote on Twitter that even if Netanyahu does not want a unity government, Likud MKs do and speak to Blue and White about it every day.

"If he loses the election to us by even one seat, the rebellion in the party will begin," Lapid wrote.

Yisrael Beytenu MK Oded Forer responded to Netanyahu by saying that the article he wrote proved that he "has become hysterical."


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