Likud's pessimism: No chance for Edelstein's initiative to succeed

"It is quite clear that Blue and White and Likud will not be able to sit together in a government, because we do not have trust or mutual appreciation" or "an ideological match," MK Miki Zohar said.

A Likud party election campaign billboard depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen above a billboard depicting Benny Gantz, leader of Blue and White party, in Petah Tikva, Israel (photo credit: NIR ELIAS / REUTERS)
A Likud party election campaign billboard depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen above a billboard depicting Benny Gantz, leader of Blue and White party, in Petah Tikva, Israel
(photo credit: NIR ELIAS / REUTERS)
Likud Speaker Miki Zohar spoke on Thursday about the failure of coalition negotiations to establish a unity government, as well as about the initiative of Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, stating that the Knesset's plan comes with good intentions but unfortunately with zero chance of realization.
"It is quite clear that Blue and White and Likud will not be able to sit together in a government, because we do not have trust or mutual appreciation – and most of all we do not have an ideological match," Zohar said.
One member of the Likud negotiating team, Minister Ze'ev Elkin, said that, "in a situation where Gantz will be first in a rotation, Blue and White will cut to elections after two years.
"There are no guarantees," Elkin noted in an interview with the Knesset Channel. "When we give guarantees for rotation, obviously we will have no choice but to remain – because if the law passes, we will not be able to go to elections since the prime minister will not be able to lead the party in elections. We are forced to sit in government with them all the time in their rotation."
Elkin added that, "when we asked them that, if the prime minister would still be in the legal process then would he be second – and they said no – we certainly could not agree. So Netanyahu won't be first, and he won't be second. For this, the Likud got the public's trust?
"The approach of Blue and White is puzzling," he continued. "If the elections are going to be in six months, then Netanyahu will serve as prime minister for six months. We are ready to talk to them about a shorter period in which he will serve."
MK Ofer Shelah of Blue and White responded by claiming that "ideas as expressed by Yuli Edelstein and others indicate that Likud also understands that the Netanyahu era is over."
Two weeks before the expiry of the Knesset's mandate to assemble a coalition, Edelstein was appointed to the task. In a last-ditch effort to prevent further elections, Edelstein yesterday summoned journalists and announced his intention to meet with Likud's and Blue and White's negotiating teams, with the aim of reinvigorating negotiations to form a unity government.
“Everyone knows Israel is in the midst of a governmental emergency, which could collapse our economy and society,” Edelstein told reporters outside his office. “This is a moment of truth for Israeli politics. This is the time to choose between leadership and cowardice. This is the time to say enough is enough.”
Edelstein discussed with the teams a compromise by which Netanyahu would remain prime minister for another five to six months, followed by Gantz for two years and then the leader of the Likud for the remaining year and a half.
But Blue and White MK Moshe Ya’alon wrote on Twitter after meeting with Edelstein that his party would not sit with Netanyahu until he is exonerated in court.
“These talks are nothing but a transparent maneuver of the Likud to shift blame for a third election,” a source in Blue and White said.
Officially, Blue and White responded to Edelstein’s initiative by saying: “We welcome the initiative of the Knesset speaker, as well as any dialogue that can advance a broad unity government led by Blue and White together with Likud that is based on a set of mutual principles. The negotiating team, led by Dr. Yoram Turbowicz and Mr. Shalom Shlomo, is making every effort to prevent an unnecessary and expensive third election.”
Translated by Alex Winston.