Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz spoke by phone on Thursday night and then ordered their coalition negotiating teams to meet on Thursday to try to form a unity government.
Representatives of both sides have been speaking secretly but now the talks will become more official. In a statement released simultaneously by Likud and Blue and White, they cited the coronavirus and President Reuven Rivlin's calls for unity.
"I appeal to you from here, leaders of the main parties, to find a way to present a shared leadership, a responsible leadership, for Israeli society in its time of crisis," Rivlin said. "I know how short the distance is between you. Each side must understand the other’s red lines and to be flexible on them, on the understanding that we have – we simply do not have – an alternative."
Both Likud and Blue and White vigorously denied a Channel 13 report on Wednesday night that the Likud had agreed to give the Justice Ministry to Blue and White in a national unity government led by Netanyahu.
The report said that progress was made toward a unity government in negotiations that took place on Wednesday and that both parties agreed that the next justice minister could be Blue and White MK Chili Tropper, who is the MK closest to Blue and White leader Benny Gantz.
Blue and White called the report "a fairy tale" and Likud called it "not true."
Kan News reported on Wednesday morning that due to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein refusing to honor the Supreme Court's decision to resign, rebel Blue and White MKs Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser would change their minds and agree to a minority government backed by the Joint List. Hauser denied the report.
"The political situation is quite simple," a source close to Gantz said on Wednesday night. "The only possibilities are an emergency unity government and us supporting the government from outside for six months during the crisis over the coronavirus and then either a government or elections. All the rest is nonsense."
The Likud said it was not interested in Blue and White supporting the government from outside and not taking responsibility while the Likud takes blame.