Netanyahu's rival rebuffs his coalition bid

Cheryl Sanders
September 20, 2019

Instead, it appears Likud and the centrist Blue and White Party will have an even number of seats in the Knesset, leaving Netanyahu's future as prime minister uncertain.

These statements are a massive change of tone for Netanyahu.

Netanyahu repeated the plea later Thursday at a memorial for late former Israeli President Shimon Peres, where he and Gantz shook hands in their first public encounter since Tuesday's vote.

Tel Aviv - The main challenger to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused him of political spin on Thursday after Netanyahu called for a meeting in order to form a national unity government. "Benny, we must set up a broad unity government, as soon as today".

"During the elections, I called for the establishment of a right-wing government".

Benny Gantz, the leader of Blue and White party, has rejected an offer by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to join forces in a governing coalition under the incumbent.

If all this weren't complicated enough, neither Blue and White nor Liberman's party are keen on having religious parties that represent ultra-Orthodox Jews in a coalition government, believing those parties already exert too much control over Israeli social policy and the budget.

Starting Sunday, Rivlin will be hosting meetings with the heads of the nine parties that crossed the threshold in Tuesday's election to see who they recommend to head the government.

"I hear, loud and clear, the voices calling for a broad and stable national unity government", he said.

Likud members have publicly said that there is no possibility of replacing Netanyahu as their leader.

Netanyahu expressed his "disappointment" at what he called Gantz's recalcitrance in the face of a national need for unity.

Earlier in the day, Rivlin welcomed Netanyahu's decision to join calls for a unity government.

Tillerson, a former ExxonMobil executive, has mostly kept a low profile after leaving the administration.

The results are similar to those of the April elections, which left Netanyahu just one seat short of a majority after the stunning defection of Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu Party and its five seats from the pro-Netanyahu camp.

"It bothers me that an ally that's that close and important to us would do that to us", he said. Likud and its natural allies of religious and ultra-nationalist parties have fallen several seats short of the needed majority. "The responsibility for making it happen falls to you, elected officials - especially the leaders of the major parties". At his post-election speech, Netanyahu called the Joint List a union of "anti-Zionist Arab parties that oppose the very existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state-parties that praise and glorify bloodthirsty terrorists who kill our soldiers, our citizens, our children".

Gantz campaigned on a platform of not joining a coalition with a leader that was under indictment and much of his success, say analysts, hinges on his promise not to join Netanyahu if Attorney General Avichai Mendalblit does decide to take him to trial on three criminal cases centred on bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Overhanging all the maneuvering are pending corruption charges against Netanyahu, with a hearing scheduled for October 3.

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