Benny Gantz to receive mandate from President Rivlin Wednesday night

Blue and White rules out coalition with Arabs.

Benny Gantz has awoken from his post-election slumber. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Benny Gantz has awoken from his post-election slumber.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
President Reuven Rivlin will formally task Blue and White leader Benny Gantz with forming a new government on Wednesday evening at the President’s Residence, Rivlin’s spokeswoman announced on Tuesday.
Gantz will have 28 days to build a coalition, beginning Wednesday night at midnight and ending just before midnight on November 20, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned his mandate to Rivlin on Tuesday evening.
Sources close to Gantz said Blue and White would speak to representatives of each of the nine other factions in the Knesset during the four weeks. But they stressed that there was a difference between such talks and official coalition negotiations, which would only be held with possible coalition partners.
“We will invite the Likud first, as we promised, but listen to all the factions,” a source close to Gantz said. “We will hear from those who know we will not sit [in a coalition] with them and continue with our potential partners.”
When asked who could be a coalition partner, the source’s response left open the possibility of every faction except the Joint List.
“We will not build a government with parties that do not believe in Israel remaining Jewish and democratic,” the source said. “This has not changed since the election.”
The four Arab parties that make up the Joint List are divided over the question of whether they could provide a parliamentary safety net for a Gantz-led minority government. Balad leader Mtanes Shehadeh said his three MKs could not vote for such a government, but both Ayman Odeh, Hadash Party leader and Joint List chairman, and Ta’al Party head Ahmad Tibi spoke in favor of such a scenario.
“If Gantz goes in the path of [former prime minister Yitzhak] Rabin, I would be happy to lead the safety net,” Odeh told Channel 12.
But Gantz’s associates said he does not intend to build a minority government and would stick to his promise to form a unity coalition with Likud, Yisrael Beytenu and Labor-Gesher. Other parties on the Right and Left would then be invited.
“I hope and believe that we will be able to create a basic infrastructure that everyone can connect to,” Gantz told reporters outside his home on Tuesday morning. “If everyone will know to give up a little bit, everyone will have a lot more room together.”
The director-general of the President’s Residence Harel Tubi spoke to representatives of all the factions in the Knesset on Tuesday and found their views about who should become prime minister remained unchanged.
Former justice minister Ayelet Shaked tweeted on Tuesday morning that if her New Right Party is invited to speak with Gantz, they will likely come. She clarified, however, that “it is a waste of time” and it would be better to begin negotiating with representatives of Netanyahu’s 55 MK bloc. United Torah Judaism leader Ya’acov Litzman released a similar statement.
Netanyahu will convene the leaders of the parties in the bloc on Wednesday afternoon.
Coalition talks are expected to intensify after Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit rules on Netanyahu’s criminal cases.
Channel 13 reported that Blue and White would try to pass a bill preventing anyone indicted from forming a government.
A poll by the channel found that if additional elections would be held, the results would be almost exactly the same as the September 17 race. When asked who would be to blame for a third election in a year, 37% said Netanyahu, 21% Gantz, 30% both, 8% answered neither and 4% said they did not know. The poll of 605 respondents representing a statistical sample of the adult population had a 4.1% margin of error.
“Another election is unnecessary and harmful,” Shaked said. “[Albert] Einstein defined insanity as repeating the same action over and over and expecting to get different results.”
Tamar Beeri contributed to this report.