Tel Aviv: Israel’s centrist Blue and White leader Benny Gantz Thursday called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to negotiate and bring about a unity government amid a political stalemate following inconclusive elections.
“Since I entered politics, I called for unity and I am optimistic today that we can reach it,” Gantz said.
“I call on Netanyahu and the Likud, let’s negotiate immediately, with talk about content and without preconditions, without spin and blocs, for the people of Israel. Let us build a real unity government,” he was quoted as saying by the Jerusalem Post.
His comments came the day after President Reuven Rivlin tasked Netanyahu with forming the next government although Gantz and his centrist Blue and White party won a narrow 33-32 seat victory over Netanyahu’s Likud party.
Gantz said that the ‘content’ of the government, meaning its policy aims, are more important to him than who gets which portfolio.
“I don’t want to be Prime Minister because I want a plane or a motorcade. I want the public’s trust because of the mission, not the power,” he said.
On Wednesday, Rivlin said his decision to ask Netanyahu to form the next government followed a two-day official consultation process, during which 55 lawmakers said they supported Netanyahu as the next Prime Minister and agreed to join a governing coalition under his leadership.
Gantz had 54 lawmakers recommending him but 10 of them, lawmakers with the Arab-Jewish Joint List, said they will not join a possible governing coalition under Gantz.
Later Wednesday, Netanyahu said he accepted the appointment and called for a ‘wide unity government’ under his leadership. But Gantz rejected the call.
Gantz, a former military chief, had said that he was ‘committed’ to the idea of unity but will not join forces with a leader who might face serious corruption charges, referring to Netanyahu’s involvement in several corruption cases.