Friday, September 20, 2019


Netanyahu calls on rival Gantz to form national unity government

by Ariel Kahana, Yori Yalon and Yehuda Shlezinger

Israel Hayom
September 19, 2019

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday morning there was no chance he could form a right-wing government after Israel's deadlocked election and called on his main rival, Blue and White Leader Benny Gantz, to join him in a broad, unity coalition.

Netanyahu and Gantz were later seen shaking hands, together with President Reuven Rivlin, at a memorial service for Shimon Peres at Mount Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem.

"During the election campaign, I called for the establishment of a right-wing government but to my regret, the election results show that this is impossible," Netanyahu said in a video recorded message.

"Benny, we must set up a broad unity government, as soon as today. The nation expects us, both of us, to demonstrate responsibility and that we pursue cooperation. Benny, let's meet today, any hour, and time, to move this initiative forward; it is the order of the day. We must not and have no reason to go to a third election – which I'm against," he added.

Speaking at the memorial ceremony, Netanyahu noted that Peres, the late left-wing statesman, had forged a coalition with then-Likud leader Yitzhak Shamir in which they rotated top office between 1984 and 1988.

"When there was no clear victory in Knesset elections, Shimon opted for national unity. He and Yitzhak Shamir agreed to cooperate in order to navigate Israel to a safe shore," Netanyahu said. "In this election, too, there is no clear winner. And I call on you, Benny ... Let us work together to again bring the State of Israel to safe shores."

Blue and White said in a statement that Gantz would issue a response to Netanyahu at 2 p.m. (Israel time).

A source close to the Blue and White leader, meanwhile, said, "Blue and White is currently the largest party and therefore, the person who leads [the next government] will be Gantz, not Netanyahu."

Yamina leader Naftali Bennett said, "Gantz needs to answer Prime Minister Netanyahu's call to meet immediately, and stop this stupid boycott. There's a country to run."

Rivlin, who as president is tasked with approving a government that emerges from this week's election, welcomed Netanyahu's call for a broad coalition.

"I congratulate you, Mr. Prime Minister, on your joining in this call. This is an important call," Rivlin said in a speech attended by both Netanyahu and Gantz.

On Wednesday, Gantz said he hoped for a "good, desirable unity government." But he has also ruled out forming one with a Netanyahu-led Likud, citing looming corruption charges against the prime minister. Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing.

Netanyahu's call came shortly after Central Election Committee members finished counting some 280,000 absentee ballots, which are votes cast by citizens who were not able to vote at their designated voting stations close to home, such as soldiers, hospital patients, those serving prison sentences, handicapped people who use mobile voting stations, and official Israeli representatives abroad.

As of 10:30 a.m., the unofficial election results after 96.5% of the votes had been counted were as follows: Blue and White 33, Likud 31, Joint Arab List 13, Shas 9, Yisrael Beytenu 8, United Torah Judaism 8, Yamina 7, Labor-Gesher 6.

The final results are expected to be announced later Thursday.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For better or worse, all good things must come to an end. With the end of Netanyahu as PM, it’s for worse. Obama must be jumping up and down with joy.


bob walsh said...

Uncertainty is unsettling, especially at the time and place Israel is in now. I wish them good luck.

Bryan Licht said...

This is terrible news for both the Israelis and the United States. There was a symbiotic and extremely strong bond between Trump and Netanyahu. Blue and white will team up with the joint Arab list and ignore the realities needed to maintain security in the name of pursuing “peace”.
The goal is admirable but the timing is not right. There can only be peace when there is a change in Palestinian leadership.

BarkGrowlBite said...

Bryan, I'm sure Gantz will prefer to have the Arabs in his coalition over forming a Unity Government that might allow Netanyahu to rise like a phoenix.

Bryan Licht said...

You are absolutely correct. And the latest news seems to confirm that. The joint Arab list has now said they are with Gantz. They include some sane folks but there are also die hard islamists who wish to destroy the country. The Hasidim Torah Jews, as well as the so called anti-Zionist younger generation, especially on elite college campuses, are popping the champagne.