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Political Maneuvering Continues Despite Conflict

Netanyahu, Gantz and Lieberman Possibly to Meet on Tuesday

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12 Nov 2019 (All day)
Political Maneuvering Continues Despite Conflict
Incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at a conference Monday evening, saying among other things that if his opponent, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, forms a minority government with the assistance of the Joint (Arab) List faction, it would be a “slap in the face of the IDF soldiers who we sent into battle together.” The speech came amidst hints from Gantz that he is ready to compromise to form a unity government with Likud and a challenge by Yisrael Beytanu leader Avigdor Lieberman to both Netanyahu and Gantz to either cooperate with each other or he would support the faction of his choice over the other.

“Benny, you were the [IDF] chief of staff during Operation Protective Edge,” Netanyahu said during his speech. “Do you remember what [Joint List MK Ahmad] Tibi did during the operation? He read the names of terrorists killed in Gaza from the stage of the Knesset. He said that the IDF is committing war crimes…In a campaign video, they said ‘Gantz, there is blood on your hands’…those are the people with whom you want to form a government?... It’s unbelievable.”
Responding to Lieberman’s challenge, he added that a third election in less than a year is not the worst thing that could happen, as “There is a greater disaster, and it is a minority government that is dependent on the Arab parties.”

Blue and White’s spokesman responded: “Netanyahu, we don’t need lessons from you in patriotism and loving the nation and the people. The citizens of Israel will not forgive you if you drag us to another expensive and unnecessary election because of your legal situation.”

However, earlier on Monday Gantz said publicly that he is willing to meet with Netanyahu and Lieberman on Tuesday to hammer out an agreement and is willing to compromise on his previously held positions in order to achieve that objective, adding that Blue and White is “prepared to consider certain compromises provided they are in line with our perspectives of our world and are in service to the State of Israel.”

This led to speculation that he might agree to Lieberman’s demand that Blue and White agree to a proposal by President Reuven Rivlin for a unity government to be formed with the understanding that there will be a rotation for Prime Minister with Netanyahu going first and having the option of taking a leave of absence in order to face his legal problems should that become necessary.

Lieberman’s demand of Likud is that it drop its allies in the religious parties Shas and United Torah Judaism, as well as the Yamina faction led by incoming Defense Minister Naftali Bennet.

“There is no connection between the messianic haredim [ultra-Orthodox] and the Right,” Liberman said in a faction meeting on Monday. “Shas and [its leader Arye] Deri abstained in the vote on the Oslo Accords... Netanyahu gave Hebron to [PLO leader Yasser] Arafat... he apologized to [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan, he opposed the death penalty for terrorists, he voted in favor of evacuating Jews from Gaza.”

United Torah Judaism leader Ya’acov Litzman wrote a letter to Rivlin in response to Lieberman’s comments, complaining that "The recent elections...have unfortunately led to divisions and polarization and the spread of hatred. We are one nation and we must respect one another...Even if there are disputes, we cannot disqualify whole populations and try to exclude them from Israeli public affairs....Haredi and religious parties make up almost a million and a half people who are being disqualified and insulted by politicians for no reason."

 

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