The Likud and Blue and White are expected to finalize their agreement on a new government on Monday night after significant progress was made when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz met at Netanyahu's Jerusalem residence on Monday.The deal reportedly was made possible after Gantz compromised on how and when to implement US President Donald Trump's Middle East peace plan and Netanyahu compromised on controlling the selection committee for new judges.
"There are still obstacles, but I am convinced that it is possible to form a government soon if both sides make an effort," Netanyahu said at a press conference, in which he revealed that Russian President Vladimir Putin pushed him to reach an agreement with Gantz.Already in July, Netanyahu will be able to bring the plan to the cabinet for a vote. Netanyahu will have to consult with Gantz and Trump on the plan but Gantz will not have veto power on the plan. Gantz also gave up on his demand to coordinate the plan with the king of Jordan. In a joint statement, Likud and Blue and White said negotiations were currently underway and were being carried out in a positive and constructive manner toward forming a government as quickly as possible. For instance, both sides agreed to maintain status quo on matters of religion and state and make changes that Shas requested to the controversial haredi (ultra-Orthodox) draft bill.Earlier, Gantz, who is also Knesset speaker, warned Netanyahu that if he would not make concessions leading to the signing of an agreement by Monday afternoon he would enable the advancement of anti-Netanyahu legislation.The legislation includes bills that would limit a prime minister to two terms in office and prevent an indicted MK from forming the government.Likud faction chairman Miki Zohar called Gantz's threat "Mafia tactics" and said Netanyahu would not surrender to him."Benny, this is not how you create unity," Zohar said. "This is how you incite and divide."Yesh Atid-Telem MK Moshe Ya'alon, Gantz's former partner in Blue and White's leadership cockpit, praised the threat, saying that "it is still not too late to reverse a mistake in navigation."Blue and White MK Chili Tropper, who is close to Gantz, said his party would not compromise on the authority of the justice minister, who is expected to be Blue and White faction chairman Avi Nissenkorn. Blue and White officials reiterated that they also would not give in on former Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein not returning to his post.Yamina leader Naftali Bennett told Army Radio on Monday morning that there was no guarantee he would join the government and it would depend on what his party is offered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu."We will look at the government and see its policies," he said. "If we see it as a bus going the wrong way, we won't get on the bus. The ball is in his court."