Another Blue and White MK said to oppose minority government

Omer Yankelevich tells leaders she’s against coalition reliant on Joint List, joining at least two other party members; officials say she’ll adhere to instructions regardless

Illustrative: Blue and White party member Omer Yankelevich at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, May 14, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Illustrative: Blue and White party member Omer Yankelevich at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, May 14, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Another MK in the Blue and White party has reportedly expressed her opposition to a minority government led by the centrist alliance’s chairman Benny Gantz because such a coalition would require the outside support of the Arab-majority Joint List.

Omer Yankelevich, Channel 12 reported Tuesday, has updated Gantz that she opposes the move, which is likely the only path the Blue and White leader has to the premiership. She joins fellow faction members Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser from Blue and White’s right-wing Telem branch, who have long asserted that a unity government is the best and only route the party should pursue.

But with the centrist alliance winning 33 seats to Likud’s 36 in last month’s election, such a coalition constellation would almost certainly require Gantz’s party to sit in a government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in violation of a promise it made throughout the campaign.

Blue and White officials told the network they were aware of Yankelevich’s positions, but that she would vote according to the leadership’s decisions.

Earlier this week, Hebrew media reported that Blue and White MKs Chili Tropper, Asaf Zamir and even senior lawmaker Gabi Ashkenazi oppose the minority coalition move, though like Yankelevich, none of them have expressed their feelings publicly. Moreover, they all recommended Gantz be tapped to form the next government on Sunday.

Outside his party, Gantz has also faced hurdles in his effort to form a minority government, with Labor-Gesher-Meretz MK Orly Levy-Abekasis walking back her support for the measure and moving to break away from the left-wing alliance with which she ran in March.

Blue and White Knesset members Yoaz Hendel (L) and Zvi Hauser seen on April 29, 2019, ahead of the opening Knesset session after elections. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Gantz is seeking a Knesset majority to vote in a government made up of his Blue and White party (33 seats), the hawkish Yisrael Beytenu (7 seats) and dovish Labor-Meretz (6 seats without Gesher leader Levy-Abekasis), with support from outside of the coalition from most or all of the Arab lawmakers of the Joint List (15 seats).

Gantz has expressed openness to a unity government with Likud, but asserted Tuesday that Netanyahu has not demonstrated seriousness in negotiating such a result. Blue and White lawmakers have accused the prime minister of neutering Israel’s democracy.

Blue and White No. 3 MK Moshe Ya’alon tweeted Tuesday that his party “will establish as broad an emergency government as possible, even if we start with a narrow government, to save the country. We won’t allow Netanyahu to turn Israel into a dictatorship.” The lawmaker was citing measures taken by the premier that would use advanced technologies to track citizens who have contracted the coronavirus in a bid to limit exposure to sick individuals.

Gantz, nonetheless, is still interested in forming a unity coalition with Netanyahu given the dire need to form a government, Channel 12 reported.

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