Blue and White said to warn rightist MKs: Back minority government or quit

Hauser and Hendel reportedly told they have no place in the party if they won’t support a coalition that relies on outside support of majority-Arab Joint List

Raoul Wootliff is the Times of Israel's former political correspondent and producer of the Daily Briefing podcast.

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)
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)

Blue and White has reportedly told two MKs from the party’s right-wing flank that they will have no place in the centrist alliance if they don’t support a minority government in order to remove Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from office and prevent a fourth election.

According to Channel 12 news, MKs Zvi Hauser and Yoaz Hendel, both hailing from the Telem faction within Blue and White, have been given an ultimatum: Back the formation of a minority government relying on the outside support of the majority-Arab Joint List, or resign from the Knesset.

Though neither Netanyahu’s Likud nor Blue and White mustered a majority of Knesset seats in last Monday’s election, the prime minister has the backing of 58 MKs and his Likud is the largest party. But if Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu and the Joint List of mainly Arab parties were to recommend to President Reuven Rivlin that Gantz form the new coalition, he would have 62 backers.

Even if the three-member Balad faction of the Joint List chose not to back Gantz, as happened in September, the Blue and White leader would still have 59 if Hauser and Hendel fall in line.

On Sunday, Telem faction chair and Blue and White No. 3 Moshe Ya’alon, along with party chair Benny Gantz, held a meeting in Tel Aviv in which they tried to persuade the rebel lawmakers to support a minority government, but the conversation reportedly turned heated and yelling could be heard from the other side of the door.

Blue and White party leaders, from the left, Gabi Ashkenazi, Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid and Moshe Ya’alon greet their supporters at party headquarters after the first results of the elections in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Earlier Sunday, the Blue and White leadership decided that the best path forward was to form a minority government, given that a unity coalition doesn’t appear to be on the table and that another election may not even be possible due to the coronavirus outbreak, Channel 12 reported.

Accordingly, the party is preparing to launch a media blitz to combat Likud, which has blasted Blue and White for cooperating with “terror supporters” in the Joint List party.

The centrist alliance will reportedly seek to explain that in exchange for the support of the Joint List MKs, it will be agreeing to the same social-minded gestures to the Arab public that Likud has offered in the past. It will then work to pass a budget before welcoming any other interested parties, including Likud, to join the coalition, the report said.

Under pressure from Likud, Blue and White repeatedly said during the election campaign it would not seek to form a government with the support of the Joint List.

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