Benny Gantz cancels meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu

Likud blames Lapid; Lapid's associates: Bull****

Tension was evident between Blue and White leader Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the opening of the Knesset’s new session on April 30 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Tension was evident between Blue and White leader Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the opening of the Knesset’s new session on April 30
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
A Rosh Hashanah holiday weekend full of political turmoil climaxed Tuesday night when Blue and White leader Benny Gantz canceled a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu set before the holiday that was expected to be a last-ditch attempt to form a unity government led by Netanyahu.
The head of Blue and White’s coalition negotiating team, Yoram Turbowicz, called his counterpart in Likud, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, to tell him that there was no point in the two leaders meeting on Wednesday night. He also canceled coalition talks that had been scheduled for Wednesday morning.
“The minimum conditions have not ripened for a meeting that would be beneficial,” a Blue and White spokeswoman said.
Likud responded by expressing “shock” at Blue and White’s move and blaming it on Gantz’s number two, MK Yair Lapid.
Netanyahu’s party said it was Gantz who told Netanyahu when they spoke on Sunday that their teams should meet before the two of them convene, but Lapid pushed him over the holiday to cancel both meetings, because he wants to see a rotation in the Prime Minister’s Office between him and Gantz and not between Gantz and Netanyahu.
“Gantz should display responsibility, avoid elections and meet with me,” Netanyahu said.
A source close to Lapid called Likud’s version of events “bull****.”
Sources in Blue and White said there was no point in meeting if Netanyahu did not give up his demand to negotiate on behalf of four parties in a political bloc on the Right and not just Likud. The cancellation also allows the media’s focus to be solely on Netanyahu’s criminal hearings and not on political developments.
Netanyahu is expected to decide by the end of the week whether to return the mandate he received from President Reuven Rivlin to form a government. Channel 12 reported that Netanyahu will speak to Rivlin on Wednesday about his future steps.
Before Rosh Hashanah, Netanyahu called Gantz, who spent the holiday in London, to make a final effort in coalition negotiations. He said they should meet upon Gantz’s return to Israel, and he even offered to go to Gantz’s home in Rosh Ha’ayin.
The party leaders decided that their negotiating teams would meet Wednesday morning and the two of them would meet that evening.
The conversation happened after a meeting between Likud and Blue and White teams on Sunday did not go well.
“The Likud is very disappointed that Blue and White was unwilling to compromise,” the party said after Sunday morning’s meeting.
Blue and White blamed the lack of progress on the Likud for not giving up its demand to negotiate as a bloc of 55 MKs on the Right.
“Unfortunately, the Likud is sticking with its ‘Netanyahu comes first’ precondition,” a Blue and White spokeswoman said. “Likud is insisting on sticking with its bloc of 55 MKs and empty slogans that will result in Netanyahu dragging Israel into an unnecessary third election. Israel deserves a broad, liberal unity government under Gantz and we will continue to work for this goal.”
Likud complained that Blue and White did not answer the question of whether Netanyahu could start out as prime minister as part of a compromise initiated by Rivlin. Likud officials said no progress could be made because Gantz was abroad.
Rivlin’s compromise is meant to resolve the issue of Blue and White promising not to sit in a Netanyahu-led government as long as he is under a recommended indictment or under indictment. The law currently allows for a minister to take the prime minister’s place if he is incapacitated, for up to 100 days. Rivlin suggested it be amended to create an official position of vice prime minister, add indictment to a possible reason for the vice prime minister to take over, and to extend the replacement period to be indefinite. Netanyahu nodded when Rivlin described this proposal last week.
Rivlin also suggested a “parity government,” meaning that the government portfolios would be split evenly between the right-wing bloc and Blue and White. This way, Blue and White, with 33 seats, would have equal executive power to the 55-seat Right. This is meant to resolve Blue and White’s rejection of the Likud negotiating in the name of the entire Right.