Likud calls emergency meeting, political system gears up for dramatic week

Gantz's mandate expires at midnight on Wednesday. Netanyahu warns that the Blue and White leader is looking to form minority government with Arab support.

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)
The political system is preparing for one of its most dramatic weeks since Blue and White leader Benny Gantz was given the mandate to form the government. While Blue and White decided to form a minority government if they do not reach agreements on a unity government, the Likud decided to hold a meeting with the right-wing bloc Sunday at 11:45 a.m. An "emergency meeting" of the Likud will be held that same evening.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attacked Gantz in a Facebook post and said that "Benny Gantz lied to his voters."
"He is no longer hiding his intentions to form a government with terror supporters such as Ahmed Tibi and his friends," he continued. "A minority government which depends on the Arab parties is an existential threat to the State of Israel. Such a government would be the abandonment of state security and a slap in the face of IDF soldiers, who the Joint List wants to prosecute as 'war criminals.' Such a government must not exist for even a single day."
Likud activists intended to protest on Sunday outside the home of State Attorney Shai Nitzan, but the organizers decided to cancel the demonstration and instead attend the Likud "emergency meeting" in Tel Aviv.
Meanwhile, Blue and White stated that Gantz met with President Reuven Rivlin on Saturday evening, updating the president on the latest developments in coalition negotiations. The two discussed the elements of the president's outline in order to prevent another round of elections. They agreed to remain in touch as much as needed.
Sources in the president's residence said that after the meeting, he is "exerting all of his weight to try and convince the two sides to create a broad, unity government."
They explained that Rivlin is directing the party leaders, preferably but not necessarily, according to the outline he proposed.
Gantz will need to return the mandate by Wednesday at midnight. If Gantz does not notify the president by then that he has managed to form a government, the mandate will expire. After this, the 21-day countdown will begin within which any one of the Knesset members will have to get 61 Knesset signatures for a government to be built and avoid a third round of elections.
Blue and White officials told Maariv that if they cannot form a unity government with the Likud by Wednesday, Gantz intends on creating a "transitional government" or a "no-choice" government so as to avoid another election at all costs.
In a Facebook post before his meeting with Rivlin, Gantz said, "Netanyahu, there is a chance that your government will end soon. I will do everything to prevent elections."
Blue and White said that the intention is to create a government which depends on Yisrael Beytenu, Labor-Gesher and the Democratic Union without cooperation of the Arab parties, with the hopes that in the future, after the attorney-general's decision on Netanyahu's cases, other parties may join the coalition led by Gantz.
Sources within the party clarified that Gantz intends to notify Rivlin on Wednesday that he will form a government, even if it's a temporary transitional government, and that he will do anything to avoid another round of elections. They emphasized that "not everything is dependent on us. There are other players in the game. We hope to enlist their support by Wednesday at midnight."
This article was translated by Tamar Beeri.