Blue and White leader Benny Gantz speaks at a rally protesting "attack" against Supreme Court.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI)
If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cannot form a coalition, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz said he should be given the opportunity to try.
“It’s irresponsible to go to an election now,” Gantz said in a faction meeting in the Knesset on Monday. “If we succeed [in forming a government], good, if not, then we will go back to the public” for a vote.
Legally, Netanyahu must tell President Reuven Rivlin by Wednesday at midnight whether he successfully formed a government or not. If Netanyahu says he failed, Rivlin could task someone else with building a coalition.
However, there are other options. Likud has been threatening to pass a law before Wednesday night to dissolve the Knesset and call another election, if Yisrael Beytenu refuses to join the coalition, leaving it tied with the opposition. Netanyahu could also tell Rivlin that he has a path to form a government, but the ministers do not actually have to be sworn in for another 21 days from Wednesday.
Still, Gantz said “it would be appropriate for Bibi [Netanyahu] to hand over the reins to the only alternative, Blue and White, under my leadership.”
As such, Blue and White opposed the bill to dissolve the Knesset, saying an election is unnecessary.
Blue and White co-chairman Yair Lapid said, similarly, that if Netanyahu “fails to form a government, then it goes to us... The public wants a national unity government.”
Lapid argued that Netanyahu is standing in the way of a unity government.
“If someone else stands at the head of Likud, anyone except Netanyahu, we can form a national unity government [that is] functioning, without extortion, without extremists, without billions in political bribes,” he stated.
Labor leader Avi Gabbay said his faction also opposes going to another election, which he said only serves Netanyahu’s interests.
Meretz, however, only committed to voting against dissolving the Knesset in a preliminary vote. Party leader Tamar Zandberg expressed concern about Blue and White talk of a unity government.
“We will not help form a right-wing government, with or without Netanyahu,” she said. “We want to recommend Gantz against to form a center-left-wing government... Until they understand that there is a democratic, Jewish-Arab bloc and that is the direction of the Gantz government, they won’t convince us.”
UAL-Balad voted in favor of dissolving the Knesset, with the former saying they made their choice due to “a lack of worthy options.”
Hadash-Ta’al abstained from the vote, with MK Aida Touma-Sliman saying that it was “Netanyahu spin and blackmail.”
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