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April 8, 2020 10:38 am

Blue and White Tells Likud There Will Be Fourth Elections If It Doesn’t Agree to Original Coalition Deal

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

A Blue and White election campaign poster, depicting party leader Benny Gantz, is seen on a car in Tel Aviv, Israel, Feb. 18, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Amir Cohen.

Ex-IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party has told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party that it must agree to a preliminary agreement reached several days ago or face a fourth round of elections.

The deal had been hammered out after Gantz broke up the original Blue and White party list with the intention of taking his faction into government with Netanyahu. It collapsed, however, when according to Blue and White, Likud negotiators attempted the reopen the issue of the process by which judges are selected, something Blue and White was unwilling to do.

Israel’s public broadcaster Kan reported that sources described as being in Gantz’s inner circle said a direct message was conveyed to Likud saying there are now only two options: a return to the original agreement or Israel’s fourth elections within a year.

The sources said any further attempts by Likud to reopen talks will be answered with a definite no. The only way contacts will be reestablished is if Likud formally agrees to the original deal beforehand.

In a message posted to Facebook, Gantz said, “This is not a time for playing with time, arm-twisting and petty politics.”

According to Gantz, the deal with Likud had been finalized, and included compromises on both sides, “but then Netanyahu and his people arrived with a demand to do damage to the proper working of the Judicial Selection Committee, contrary to what has already been agreed.”

In response, Likud blamed Gantz for the impasse, saying, “From the first moment it was agreed that the unity government would establish two clear principles: joint decision-making on all issues and promoting the application of sovereignty” over parts of the West Bank.

“Unfortunately, at the last minute, Blue and White was the one to go back on these agreements, which are a necessary basis for any equitable government,” Likud asserted.

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