Gantz Wants to Form Israel’s Next Government without Netanyahu
Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz declared on Thursday his willingness to lead a national unity government after rejecting an offer made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to join forces in a governing coalition under the incumbent.
With more than 97 percent of the vote counted, the centrist Blue and White party has 33 seats, while Netanyahu's Likud party is behind with 31, falling way short of the majority figure of 61.
Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving leader, said in a video clip in which he urged Gantz, the country’s former military chief, to meet him “as soon as today”, that he had pledged during the election campaign to form a right-wing, Likud-led government.
“But to my regret, the election results show that this is impossible,” Netanyahu said.
“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,” he added.
Gantz, speaking to reporters, said that Israelis want a national unity government and voiced his willingness to form and lead such a government.
President Reuven Rivlin, two days from now, will begin negotiations to pick the country’s next prime minister and approve the cabinet.
In Tel Aviv, in recent days, there have been reports of a rift in relations between Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump.
Political sources revealed that US mediator Jason Greenblatt, tasked with consultations pertaining to the “deal of the century,” suddenly asked to meet with Gantz, whose party became the first political power in Israel after the last general elections.