Netanyahu, Like His Foe, Requires Unity Authorities, however Conflicts Stay

JERUSALEM — Seizing the initiative in Israel’s postelection political gridlock, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday known as on his principal rival, Benny Gantz, to satisfy instantly to debate forming a authorities of nationwide unity collectively.

Mr. Netanyahu, going through a looming indictment in three corruption instances, is combating for his political survival and, doubtlessly, his freedom. His solely likelihood of gaining immunity from prosecution could be to stay within the high workplace, although neither he nor Mr. Gantz emerged from Tuesday’s election with a transparent path to the premiership.

Mr. Gantz had already called for a unity government, however for Mr. Netanyahu, time is of the essence. He has a particular listening to with the lawyer normal set for Oct. 2, and prices may very well be filed quickly after.

Tuesday’s redo election was Israel’s second in 5 months, after an April poll additionally ended inconclusively.

“I call on you, Benny, let’s meet today, at any hour, at any time, to set in motion this process,” Mr. Netanyahu said in a video message, calling it a matter of utmost urgency.

Mr. Gantz’s centrist Blue and White occasion got here out of the election with a slight edge over Mr. Netanyahu’s conservative Likud. As the ultimate votes have been being tallied, Blue and White was projected to have received 33 seats to Likud’s 31.

Collectively, they might have a slim majority of 64 within the 120-seat Parliament. Neither has sufficient help from different events to construct a viable coalition by itself with out defections from events throughout the strains. The middle-left bloc of events seems to have received 57 seats, to 55 for the right-wing and spiritual events.

[Examine how the election has additionally given new heft to Israel’s Arab politicians.]

Now Mr. Netanyahu, a brutal political warrior who had vilified his opponents in the course of the marketing campaign as comfortable leftists, is loudly staking a declare to be the bridge-builder. Analysts had predicted that the prime minister would have interaction in postelection maneuvering designed to confound his political opponents, and a few Blue and White members warned that his enchantment for a broad coalition was a bluff, designed to set Mr. Gantz up for failure.

“Netanyahu can place conditions that Gantz cannot meet,” mentioned Abraham Diskin, an Israeli professor of political science. The negotiating groups of each Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Gantz have been “very shrewd,” he added. “We will eat the meal they cook.”

The secular, ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu occasion led by Avigdor Liberman, a former Netanyahu ally turned nemesis, has refused to hitch both bloc this time and holds the steadiness, having received not less than eight seats. Mr. Liberman has mentioned he would help solely a broad, secular unity authorities, excluding ultra-Orthodox and right-wing extremist events.

However forming a unity authorities would even be like placing collectively a puzzle with items that don’t fairly match. The 2 principal rivals are each on report supporting such a coalition, however on conflicting phrases.

Mr. Gantz has repeatedly pledged to not enter a coalition with Likud as long as its chief is going through indictment. Mr. Gantz additionally mentioned earlier than the election that, like Mr. Liberman, he wished to type a broad, secular coalition, excluding ultra-Orthodox events.

However Mr. Netanyahu already met along with his former coalition companions from the right-wing and spiritual camps on Wednesday and vowed that they might stick collectively in coalition negotiations.

“Benny, this is not the time for disqualifications and boycotts, this is the moment to put our ego aside,” Miri Regev, a Likud lawmaker and Netanyahu loyalist, wrote on Twitter. “This is an undemocratic act on your part.”

Mr. Netanyahu will surely demand a rotation settlement with Mr. Gantz, to separate the four-year time period as prime minister between them, as Yitzhak Shamir of Likud and Shimon Peres of the Labor Celebration did within the 1980s.

Yoaz Hendel, a member of Blue and White who used to work for Mr. Netanyahu, appeared to not rule out Mr. Netanyahu as a coalition companion, not less than at this stage.

“In Blue and White, we want a unity government and we have principles about the person who is prime minister,” he mentioned in a radio interview after Mr. Netanyahu’s name on Thursday.

“The prime minister cannot be someone who has been indicted,” he mentioned, including, “I think several constellations are possible, and no matter what, Benny Gantz must be prime minister first.”

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Isabel Kershner

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