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Tension was evident between Blue and White leader Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the opening of the Knesset’s new session on April 30.(Photo by: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Netanyahu calls on Gantz to form unity government
"Netanyahu is having difficulty accepting his loss, and is trying to disguise Blue and White's victory as the largest party and say there is no clear decision."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted that he may be willing to have a rotation agreement for the premiership with Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, in his remarks at a memorial service for former prime minister Shimon Peres.

"Let's cooperate like Peres and [former prime minister Yitzhak] Shamir," Netanyahu said.

Peres and Shamir had a rotation agreement after the 1984 election, when neither could form a coalition without the other. Peres was prime minister until 1986, when Shamir replaced him. This was the first and only such agreement in Israel's history.

Netanyahu and Gantz were also spotted shaking hands at the service.

The prime minister’s remarks came shortly after he made his first call for Likud and Blue and White to form a coalition together, along with the Likud’s religious-right partners of recent years.

“We have no choice but to form a broad unity government, as broad as possible, that is made up of all the elements that care for the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said.

The prime minister acknowledged that he promised a right-wing government during the election, but said that “unfortunately, the results of the election showed it is not possible. The public did not decide between the two blocs.”

Netanyahu called on Gantz to meet with him as soon as possible to start the process of forming a coalition together, confirming an exclusive report in Thursday’s The Jerusalem Post. His office called Gantz’s aides to plan a one-on-one meeting on Thursday.

“The nation expects us, both of us, to show responsibility and act in cooperation,” he said. “We cannot and have no reason to go to a third election. I oppose it. A broad unity government is what is demanded of us today.”

A Blue and White source said "Netanyahu is having difficulty accepting his loss and is trying to disguise Blue and White's victory as the largest party and say there is no clear decision."

Throughout the campaign, Blue and White’s leaders said that they would not sit in a government with Netanyahu as long as the specter of an indictment on corruption charges remained over the prime minister’s head. Netanyahu is set to go to a pre-indictment hearing with Attorney-General Avichai Mandelbit on October 2-3.

Netanyahu’s statement came after his meeting with the leaders of religious right-wing parties Yamina, Shas and United Torah Judaism. On Wednesday, the parties agreed to negotiate as a bloc, which amounted to 55 seats as of Thursday morning's yet-incomplete vote count.

New Right MK Naftali Bennett repeated the call, saying: “A national unity government must be established with Netanyahu at its head, in which everyone who believes in a Jewish and democratic Israel is invited. We do not count out the haredim [ultra-Orthodox], Lapid – and certainly not Netanyahu.”
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