UTJ MK Moshe Gafni told National Unity chairman MK Benny Gantz that he would like to see him join the government coalition, KAN Reshet Bet reported on Thursday morning.
The comments were made in a recent meeting between the two discussing efforts to reach a compromise regarding judicial reform. Gafni is reportedly seeking to increase the balance in the coalition by adding Gantz and the National Unity party.
Gafni's comments are only the latest of a number of similar messages conveyed to Gantz by coalition members in recent weeks, sources familiar with the details of the discussions added.
Gantz's office reacts
Gantz's office reacted to the reports by publishing a statement: "The chairman of the National Unity party, Benny Gantz, maintains contacts with many Knesset members in the coalition and in the opposition, and even more so in recent times in order to stop the threat of a coup d'etat and a civil war in Israeli society. Beyond that, we do not comment on the content of the personal meetings held by Gantz."
Since the November 1 election, Gantz has repeatedly denied the option of entering a Netanyahu-led government and leaving the Religious Zionist Party and Otzma Yehudit party in the opposition.
In December of last year, Gantz said he will "be there" if Netanyahu wishes to oppose his partners' "actions that involve harming democracy or national security," but that his support would come from the opposition and he would not join a government led by Netanyahu.
Gantz had previously joined a unity government with Netanyahu's Likud party after the March 2020 election, serving as Defense Minister and designated alternate prime minister. However, the government broke apart before Gantz could take up the role as prime minister.
Gafni also led an effort to form an alternate government before the Knesset dispersed in June 2022, during which comments were made by UTJ MK Makleb, saying that UTJ would not oppose Gantz becoming prime minister. The comments were later downplayed by Gafni.
Eliav Breuer and Idan Zonshine contributed to this story.