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September 29, 2019 3:36 pm

In Rosh Hashanah Message, Netanyahu Outlines Terms for Unity Government, Says ‘There Is No Alternative’

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz meet in Jerusalem, Sept. 23, 2019. Photo: Haim Zach / GPO.

In a greeting on Sunday for the Jewish new year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on rival Benny Gantz to agree to form a unity government when they meet immediately after the Rosh Hashanah holiday.

Israel’s September 17 elections ended in a deadlock with neither Netanyahu’s Likud or Gantz’s Blue and White able to form a majority government. President Reuven Rivlin has been pushing the two parties to form a unity government. Thus far, contacts between the parties have not borne fruit.

In a video posted on Twitter, Netanyahu called for a new year of “internal peace.”

To accomplish this, he said, President Rivlin made a “wise proposal” when he said, “Neither you Prime Minister Netanyahu and you MK Gantz can form a government on your own,” so “form a mutual government, a wide unity government.”

This proposal, said Netanyahu, would involve a rotation agreement in which Netanyahu would serve as prime minister first and Gantz second.

Moreover, the prime minister said, this would be “an equal government. That is, it doesn’t matter how many MKs we bring from the right … and it doesn’t matter how many Benny Gantz brings from the left; the number of ministers within the government will be equal, so no one will have an advantage.”

“It was difficult,” Netanyahu stated. “I was torn about it, but I gave in and I said: We’re ready to go with this.”

“We still haven’t received from Blue and White an agreement to these two simple principles, which will seal the deal, because the minute we agree on that, everything else comes together very quickly,” he said.

In order to break the impasse, Netanyahu claimed, he asked Gantz to meet Wednesday afternoon and make a “final attempt” at forming a unity government.

“I say to you, citizens of Israel: there is no other solution,” he stated.

Referring to what might happen next if he is forced to “return the mandate,” i.e. tell the president he has been unable to form a government, the prime minister said he and Gantz would have to end up agreeing on a unity government anyway. It will be either “now or we will do it at the end after I return the mandate, after Benny returns the mandate.”

“We’ll arrive at this, only this, there is no alternative,” he concluded. “Better earlier than later.”

Watch the full video of Netanyahu’s message below:

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