Likud, Blue and White set Monday deadline for coalition deal

Blue and White demands defense, foreign ministries

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz  (photo credit: REUTERS)
Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Likud and Blue and White negotiating teams intend to meet as much as possible over the next few days in order to finalize a coalition deal by Monday, sources in the parties said Wednesday night.
They set an arbitrary deadline of Monday because that is when the Knesset will reconvene and decide which of the two parties will control the post of Knesset speaker and the leadership of key Knesset committees.
After Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein did not allow voting on the posts on Wednesday, Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yinon warned that if votes are not held when the Knesset reconvenes on Monday, it would be “the kiss of death for the parliament.”
Both sides reported progress in lengthy coalition talks that took place on Wednesday, though sources close to Blue and White’s negotiating team said no agreements have been reached.
Blue and White has demanded the Foreign Affairs, Defense, Internal Security, Justice and Culture portfolios. A compromise is expected to be reached on the Justice portfolio whereby the post would be filled by an outsider: a professional respected by both sides.
Both parties are expected to have the same number of ministers, which would require firing some of the current Likud ministers.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Blue and White to “stop circulating fake news and enter an emergency government that will fight to save the lives of Israeli citizens” due to the coronavirus crisis.
“Politics can wait a few months,” he said. “This is the time for leadership, national responsibility and cooperation.”
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz responded that while his party is "all on board to fight the coronavirus," he would not let the virus be used politically.
"No crisis, whatever its scope, may be exploited as a means to trample upon values of national decorum and responsibility and to undermine the will of the voting public," he said. "The Likud lacks a majority in the Knesset, so it has gone ahead and closed it. We won’t allow that."
But in a more positive sign, Gantz shared a tweet from Netanyahu on precautions for the coronavirus and Netanyahu thanked him on Wednesday.
President Reuven Rivlin then wrote to Gantz and Netanyahu: “Perhaps you should continue with that at the cabinet table, my friends.”