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October 16, 2019 3:36 pm

Path to Israeli Unity Government May Be Opening, With Gantz Indicating a Willingness to Sit With Netanyahu

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.

Despite the current impasse in the Israeli coalition talks, signs emerged on Wednesday that a path to a unity government might be opening, with Blue and White leader Benny Gantz reportedly expressing a positive attitude toward such an arrangement.

The Sept. 17 Knesset elections ended in a stalemate, with neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party nor Gantz’s centrist Blue and White able to form a majority coalition. Despite pressure to form a unity government, negotiations have thus far failed.

Th Israeli news Mako reported on Wednesday, however, that sources close to Gantz were saying the former IDF chief of staff was leaning toward a unity government along lines recommended by President Reuven Rivlin.

“We will hold our noses,” Gantz was quoted as saying, “but Netanyahu will have an expiration date.”

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Under Rivlin’s plan, Gantz and Netanyahu would both be designated prime ministers in a rotation government. However, Netanyahu would be allowed to go on “recess” to deal with his legal issues stemming from corruption charges.

Depending on the outcome of the legal process, Netanyahu would then be allowed to return to government. However, it remains unclear precisely when in the legal process Netanyahu would have to step down.

According to Mako, Gantz referred to sitting under Netanyahu “for a few months.”

Another possibility is a minority government composed of Blue and White and the left-wing Labor and Democratic Union parties. Such a move would require support — or at least a lack of opposition — from the largely-Arab Joint List and Avigdor Lieberman’s secular-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party.

Lieberman has pledged that he would only support a government composed of Yisrael Beiteinu, Likud and Blue and White.

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