Unity Government Negotiations Drag On, New Poll Shows Likud Would Win Majority and Form Right-Wing Block if Elections Held Today; Lapid, Ya’alon Blast Netanyahu, Gantz

In early April, Benny Gantz reportedly accepted Likud’s terms to annex a limited number of territories on the West Bank. Gantz is reportedly willing to accept annexation of territories west of Israel’s security barrier if exchange for the formation of a unity government. But he is also rejecting annexation of the Jordan Valley. Gantz also reportedly believes that annexation should be put on hold until after Israel has dealt with the coronavirus. Reported by i24 News. Read more…

A few days later, however, Gantz called off coalition talks to form a “national emergency government,” saying there was a limit to how much he was willing to compromise. Gantz stated, in a Facebook post, that “We informed them that we want a national emergency government, but not at any cost.” He also said that, “Joining forces in a crisis is important, but in times like these, protecting democracy and the rule of law for the future of Israel is critically important.” Gantz said that talks broke down after Likud tried to change agreed upon judicial appointments. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… (Ed. note: judicial appoints are a critical point in negotiations because Netanyahu is under indictment).

Despite the breakdown, interim prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Benny Gantz over the Passover holiday to wish Gantz a “Happy Passover” and speak about “the need for a national emergency government for the good of the nation at this time and agreed to continue discussions following the holiday period.” Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

During Passover a poll showed Netanyahu’s Likud party would gain 40 seats in the Knesset if elections were held today, and that Netanyahu would head of bloc of allied right-wing parties by garnering a total of 64 seats, a majority. Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party would take 19 seats. The Yesh Atid-Telem alliance (which broke from Blue and White) would take 10 seats, followed by the Ulta-Orthodox Shas with 9, Yamina with 8 seats, and Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu tied with United Torah Judaism tied at 7 each. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Talks resumed as Passover came to an end and the mandate for Gantz to form a government approached. The deadline was been extended by 48-hours after Gantz and Netanyahu made a joint appeal to Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin. The two sides continued to meet even after the extended deadline passed. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

On April 16, however, with no unity deal, Rivlin gave the Knesset an ultimatum—pick the country’s prime minister in the next 21-days or he would set a fourth round of elections. Reported by i24 News. Read more…

More Reported by The Guardian. Read more…

Rivlin informed Gantz that his mandate had expired, but also stated that he would not give a mandate to Netanyahu, which triggered the 21-day deadline for the Knesset to decide on a leader. Either Netanyahu or Gantz could still form a government if they can obtain enough support from members of the Knesset. Reported by The Times of Israel.Read more…

To get a deal done, Benny Gantz turned up the pressure on Netanyahu, suggesting he would resume legislative actions against the interim prime minister if a deal isn’t sealed soon. That pressure would come in the form of legislation that would prevent Netanyahu from forming a government while under indictment. Such legislation is expected to pass by a wide majority. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party has announced that it will put forth five bills in the Knesset. The bills are designed to force Netanyahu to form a unity government with Gantz. The bills include provisions that would prevent MK’s under indictment from serving as prime minister. Yisrael Beytenu also called upon Gantz to allow the bills to be voted on. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Liberman urged Gantz to advance the bills, saying Netanyahu would not form a unity government, “not today, and not tomorrow.” Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… (Blog entry, scroll down).

Meanwhile, the European Union has been quietly warning Gantz not to agree to annexation of the West Bank as part of a unity deal. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Gantz has also reportedly told his associates that he has made a major breakthrough in negotiations with Netanyahu and that they are on the brink of a deal, but no details have been disclosed. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Earlier, Gantz had conceded that he didn’t know if a unity deal could be reached, but that if a fourth round of elections were held, he would go to them with his head held high. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Former Gantz ally Yair Lapid has proposed a “political freeze” for six months to give the government time to fight the coronavirus and deal with the economy, while Moshe Ya’alon, also a former ally, called Gantz unfit to serve as prime minister. Ya’alon said that if Gantz hands Netanyahu immunity from prosecution, he should not serve as prime minister. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Lapid has been on a tear, on Sunday blasting Netanyahu’s demands, saying, “A man with indictment cannot be tasked with appointing a police chief, a state prosecutor, an attorney general or the judges who would preside over his case – yet such is Netanyahu’s list of demands.” Lapid accused Netanyahu of undermining Israeli democracy and Gantz of complicity by giving in to Netanyahu in return for a unity government. He said that those who give into Netanyahu’s demands “are not the opposition.” Lapid went on to say, “The government being formed is not an emergency government but the fifth Netanyahu government. The negotiations being conducted are not about the coronavirus but ministerial posts. Those responsible for breaking up Blue and White and defrauding us intend to sit under a man charged with fraud.” Lapid made the statements in a “black flag” rally in central Tel Aviv. Reported by i24 News.Read more…