Blue and White divisions over minority government intensify

Telem sources certain their position will win and faction will stay together.

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz was given the mandate and 28 days to form a new government by President Reuven Rivlin (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz was given the mandate and 28 days to form a new government by President Reuven Rivlin
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Blue and White Party MKs vigorously argued with one another in a faction meeting this week over whether to consider forming a minority government of less than 61 seats supported by the Joint List.
Still, sources in the list’s right flank expressed certainty that their stance will prevail, and that rumors of the party splitting are overblown.
“All options are still on the table,” said a Blue and White statement released after its negotiators met with their counterparts from the Democratic Union on Tuesday.
The day before, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz said at the opening of a faction meeting: “The best option moving forward is a unity government led by Blue and White together with Likud... However, we will not disregard any option or arrangement that will allow us to form a government.”
Blue and White lawmakers had been sending mixed messages in the media, with some of the more right-leaning MKs – including MK Chili Tropper, a close Gantz ally – saying they could only form a government based on Zionist parties, while others saying relying on the Joint List was an option that must be seriously considered.
The differences blew up in the part of the faction meeting that was closed to the press. MKs’ remarks were confirmed by multiple people present.
MKs Zvi Hauser and Yoaz Hendel of the right-wing Telem Party within Blue and White, as well as MK Orit Farkash-Hacohen of Gantz’s Israel Resilience Party, argued with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and MK Ram Ben Barak from his party, as first reported on KAN Bet. The former group opposed the policy of being purposefully vague about whether Blue and White would pursue a minority coalition, while the latter insisted that it continue.
“There is no vagueness as far as I’m concerned,” Hendel said. “We need to say it out loud. It’s an ideological matter.”
Lapid said: “It can’t be that there are people here who think they’re the only ones with an ideological stance, and everyone else are opportunists.”
Telem leader Moshe Ya’alon said that vagueness is fine, as long as in the end, Blue and White only partners with parties that support a Jewish and democratic Israel.
In the end, as seen in the party’s Tuesday statement about all options being open, the party continues to be vague in its public statements.
Yet sources in Telem were sure that their view will prevail.
They described Telem as having had an outsized influence in shaping Blue and White’s platform, which does not call for a two-state solution. Despite having only five MKs out of 33, Ya’alon sits in the faction’s quadripartite leadership forum known as “the cockpit.”
“In the end, [Blue and White] went to the Right,” a source said, referring to commitments by Gantz to build a city in the Jordan Valley and that under his leadership, Israel would not evacuate any settlers.
Because of that influence, the sources said that notwithstanding tensions between them and some Yesh Atid MKs, the party is likely to remain together and doubted they’d be expected to compromise on ideological matters.
Still, one source said that while it is unlikely to happen, a partnership with the Joint List, whose MKs are anti-Zionist and reject Israel’s Jewish character, would be a redline that would have Telem lawmakers consider leaving Blue and White.