Gantz and Netanyahu to meet today

Liberman doesn’t rule out joining Netanyahu-led right-wing government.

Reuven Rivlin, Benny Gantz and Benjamin Netanyahu meet on September 23, 2019. (photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
Reuven Rivlin, Benny Gantz and Benjamin Netanyahu meet on September 23, 2019.
(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet for the first time since the former was tasked with forming a government, with a meeting scheduled for Sunday afternoon at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv.
Gantz and the Blue and White team are expected to tell Netanyahu and Likud that he needs to give up either on being prime minister first in a rotation between them, or on his 55-seat bloc of religious and right-wing parties.
A week of intensive negotiations is ahead for Blue and White, with its negotiating team meeting its counterparts in Likud and then Yisrael Beytenu on Sunday, and Labor-Gesher and Democratic Union on Tuesday.
Gantz and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman plan to have a one-on-one meeting on Monday.
Liberman made it clear on Saturday night that, despite his strong criticism of Netanyahu since April, he is not automatically going into a Gantz-led government.
“I don’t have any commitment to Blue and White,” Liberman told Meet the Press on Saturday night. “I assume that in matters of religion and state it’ll be easier for us to agree with Blue and White, but I’m not sure about security issues... [or] about the Palestinians.”
In fact, Liberman did not rule out joining a Netanyahu-led right-wing government, much like the one in which he was defense minister in 2016-2018.
Asked four times about the possibility, Liberman did not say he wouldn’t not join such a government.
Rather, Liberman said: “I believe that in the end the two big parties will wake up... and form a government together. The other partners are less important... I hope it will happen... First, we will do all we can to convince them, and we have leverage, so we will convince them to do it.”
Liberman did not specify what kind of leverage he has, though if he were to remain steadfast in his refusal to join any government other than a unity government, it would be unlikely for Gantz or Netanyahu to be able to form a majority coalition.
In addition, Liberman said that he is not boycotting the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties, but they would have to be open to changes in matters of religion and state.
“We want to change the conversation,” Liberman said. “In matters of religion and state, there was serious harm to the status quo... We need to go back,” to the way things were before.
In addition, the Yisrael Beytenu leader said he will not support a Blue and White bill that would require a prime minister to quit if he is indicted.
Blue and White MK Zvi Hauser came out against the possibility of a minority government supported by the Joint List at an event in Petah Tikva.
Blue and White said before the election who we will sit with and form a government,” Hauser said. “Only a party that supports the basic, foundational arrangement of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. Those are the relevant parties to a unity government. We plan to work to form a large, Zionist unity government. There is no relevance to a narrow, troublesome government.”