Labor party chairman Amir Peretz and Gesher leader Orly Levy-Abecassis have both openly expressed interest Friday in joining a government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to a report released by Israel's Channel 12.
In a television interview with Channel 12, Peretz claimed that if he does join the government coalition, he will demand better and 'real' social programs. In explaining his reasoning for potentially joining a Netanyahu-led government, Peretz said that "this is a tough move, but we will have to look at it because in the end we all care about what will happen in this country. I cannot ignore the circumstances. These are results of the election. There are circumstances that force us to come and realize that efforts must now be made to reach a compromise."
Regarding his hopes on the priorities of the incoming Knesset, Peretz highlighted the need to address the country's socioeconomic issues, saying that "I really hope that within the agreement between Gantz and Netanyahu there will also be [socioeconomic issues], that is what is important to me. In deciding whether I am part of the next government, I will first examine whether disadvantaged populations once again become the ones who pay the price and whether the women of Israel struggle every day. Therefore, I will demand that social welfare programs will be real programs, and if it is, I would certainly be happy to make my contribution."
Similarly, Levy-Abecassis noted her interest in joining a Netanyahu-led government, likely in a bid to receive the Health Ministry. Following the election earlier this month, Labor, Gesher and the social-democratic Meretz party ran on a joint ticket and received 7 seats. After the announcement of the March 2 election results, Gesher split off from the left-wing Zionist alliance.
The expression of interest from both party leaders comes amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic facing the country and the split between Benny Gantz's Israel Resilience party, and the rest of the Blue and White alliance, Yesh Atid and Telem. Gantz's party is set to join Netanyahu's government under the condition of a rotational premiership.
The split occurred after Gantz announced he would be the candidate for interim Knesset speaker to facilitate progress in coalition talks with Likud. The Likud objected to Blue and White MK Meir Cohen becoming Knesset speaker because he is from Yesh Atid, which Likud knew would stay out of a national-unity government initially led by Netanyahu.