Knesset battle likely to delay government for weeks

Lapid: Blue and White worst fraud in Israel’s history

An empty Knesset Plenum  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
An empty Knesset Plenum
A day after the euphoria over the agreement reached on a long-awaited coalition, sources in Likud and Blue and White admitted on Tuesday that the formation of a new government remains weeks away.
The agreement signed between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz requires a series of controversial bills to be passed into law before the government can be sworn in. Some of them are even Basic Laws, which require a special majority.
For instance, there will need to be bills passed to bolster the position of vice prime minister for Gantz over the next 18 months and Netanyahu after that. Next week’s commemoration of Remembrance Day and Independence Day will also delay the formation of the next government.
President Reuven Rivlin gave until May 7 for any MK to build a coalition. On that date, Netanyahu could be given a mandate of two more weeks. 
Sources in Likud said that in order to guarantee that there will not be disappointed Likud MKs who take revenge in the Knesset, Netanyahu will not appoint ministers until the last-minute.
It could also take time until it is clear if Yamina and Labor will be joining the coalition. Netanyahu is expected to meet with Yamina leader Naftali Bennett on Wednesday.
Gantz, who is Knesset speaker, said the plenum would be convened in rare Sunday and Thursday meetings to make up for the lost time. A blitz of marathon legislative efforts will begin on Wednesday.
Yesh Atid-Telem leader Yair Lapid vowed to lead a fighting opposition until the government is brought down. Lapid, who was second on the Blue and White list, expressed his regret to his former party's voters, because he told them Gantz would not enter a Netanyahu-led government.
"I apologize to all those people who I convinced to vote for Benny Gantz and Blue and White this past year," he said. "I didn’t believe that they would steal your vote and give it to Netanyahu. That they would use your vote to form the fifth Netanyahu government. It’s the worst act of fraud in the history of this country."
Lapid lamented that despite the coronavirus crisis, Netanyahu and Gantz were forming "the largest, most wasteful, most bloated government in our country’s history" and "a bureaucratic monster which will be impossible to manage." He noted that by contrast, in Germany they have 16 ministers and in Austria 15.
Attacking another former partner in Blue and White, Lapid said Gabi Ashkenazi would be "foreign minister on zoom."
Gantz attacked Lapid back, saying that "there are those who preferred to win in politics instead of defeating the coronavirus." The Likud responded that Lapid should have displayed responsibility and joined the government instead of preferring a fourth election.
A Midgam poll broadcasted Tuesday night on Channel 13 found that 62% of the public is in favor of the new government, 22% oppose it and 16% are not sure.